Ford’s “Green Zone” To Improve Energy Efficiency Of Plug-In Vehicles

3 years ago by Mark Kane 12

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford is developing a “Green Zone” project for plug-in hybrid cars like the Fusion Energi to automatically select the driving mode (hybrid or electric) depending on zone or other factors.

Why do this instead of just driving the first part in all-electric mode until battery pack is depleted? Well, according to Ford, this could additionally increase the efficiency.

“As the Ford plug-in hybrid travels down Village Road, a short distance from the maker’s corporate headquarters, the driver notices a subtle shudder from under the hood. A quick glance down at the instrument panel reveals that the car’s four-cylinder gas engine has shut off, leaving the sedan to run solely on battery power.”

“A few miles later, the process reverses itself, the car’s engine automatically firing up again as it exits an area marked in green on the Fusion’s video navigation screen.”

Maybe it could be useful to avoid tolls and penalties in city centers too. The project has some potential to control headlights or transmission (several manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz new S-Class sedan, began using map data to optimize transmission efficiency).

“Batteries are more effective when operating at slower speeds, especially in stop-and-go driving, rather than at highway speeds. Meanwhile, an owner might choose to reserve the batteries for driving in specific areas towards the end of a commute, rather than right out of the driveway.”

Joel Brush, a global account director with Here, a subsidiary of technology giant Nokia, which is providing the underlying mapping information for the Ford Green Zone system, stated:

 “We’re looking at ways to make driving more efficient, intelligent and safer.”

To get the best results, Ford’s “Green Zone” would cover such things as traffic congestion and even the grade of the roadway. Moreover, the system could adapt to driver behaviors and recognize which member of a family is behind the wheel.

All these things seems rather complicated and Ford admits that it needs at least a few years to prepare such a system for commercial use.

Source: NBCNews.com

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12 responses to "Ford’s “Green Zone” To Improve Energy Efficiency Of Plug-In Vehicles"

  1. DaveMart says:

    Some variation on this system is virtually inevitable given the EU and Chinese regulations, which are geared to zero emission city driving with a 50km range on the NEDC.

    They are going to be pretty ticked if those zero emission miles don’t happen in the city, so manufacturers will have to ensure that they are going to.

    Future monitoring is likely to make it easy to tell whether cars are in fact zero emission where they should be.

  2. kdawg says:

    “We’re looking at ways to make driving more efficient…”
    ——-

    Um, put a bigger battery in there. This is just a band-aid, and it will result in more cold engine starts. How would you like to be driving, knowing you have enough EV range to get to your destination, but the car decides to run the engine anyway?

    1. DaveMart says:

      It will have an on/off switch for automatic changing.
      It will have to, to be compliant with regs in Europe and China.

    2. Ken_3 says:

      Agreed. It already has a select button to shut down the EV mode when cruising down the interstate. But, it does require an educated driver to know the benefits of the different modes. A bigger battery would be great, but it would take up all the rest of the meager storage space!

      1. kdawg says:

        Ford really needs to make a purpose built PHEV & BEV.

    3. Spec9 says:

      Yeah, this is what I was gonna say. Adding more batteries to their Energi cars would help a LOT. But I guess they want cheap ways to improve efficiency.

    4. Just_Chris says:

      IMO they should be doing a range of things not just increasing the size of battery. Here is my list of things that I would love to see from ford

      1. Increase the size of battery in current energi models

      2. Smarter use of the battery driving at constant high speed on a free way is a dumb way to use your battery if you are doing town driving at the end. In the same way using the battery to heat the car up on a cold morning is also dumb when you can use the ICE as a CHP (combined heat and power) unit for the first 5 min of the journey

      3. Cheaper versions of BEV’s and PHEV’s

      4. More BEV and PHEV options, even with shrunken batteries. IMO anything with a plug is good.

      It appears Ford are ticking 2 and 3 but not moving as fast as I would like on 1 and 4

  3. pjwood says:

    Big, or small, this is doing something right. Think of Volt2’s smaller engine, and more rapid thermal warm-up with the coming liquefied exhaust manifold. More efficient, and rapid, heat harvest from the ICE is GM’s way of avoiding watt consumption.

    Ford’s approach looks to be taking a commute and avoiding a cold morning’s watt sucking heat, and instead timing the ICE operation where it is more useful. It’s the time of year when, with no buttons pressed, I can find myself traveling home partially on gas, not using any of the (free) heat in the warmer afternoon. “Intelligent”, is taking a stab at reversing this, without having to mentally calculate your ‘Hold’ button use.

  4. «Ford’s “Green Zone” To Improve Energy Efficiency Of Plug-In Vehicles»

    Not sure if the miss-match is with the article tittle, or with Ford’s focus on efficiency?

    The Ford Focus EV already gets 110 City / 99 Highway EPA MPG … 4x the current US average.

    IMO Ford’s focus should be improving battery capacity … to 50+ miles for PHEVs and to 100-120 mies for BEVs with integrated support for DC fast charging.

    Ford already has the ability to produce vehicles with exceptional efficiency, it just needs to match the specs that consumers require to make plugins practical for mainstream usage. The fact that the LEAF has DCFC and the Focus EV does NOT is a major differentiator in sales numbers.

    The Ford Energi and Focus EV have great style and engineering, Ford just needs a bit more E(lectric) in their EVs.

    1. mustang_sallad says:

      I think big companies like Ford can probably handle a little bit of multi-tasking. Just because some software engineers are working on clever algorithms to take into account some geographical information doesn’t mean you can’t also have electrical engineers figuring out how to add DCFC, and others looking at increasing battery capacity and reducing costs.

  5. Bloggin says:

    This sounds like something we will see in the next gen Energi plug-in hybrid models due 2017. Along with a higher capacity battery pack(has to offer at least 30 EV miles to be competitive and share packs with upcoming Lincoln plug-in models).

    Letting it drive in hybrid mode at higher speeds or for longer distances, while automatically switching to EV mode at lower speeds or at higher speeds when home destination can be reached in EV mode makes sense.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    I would wager most drivers of the volt already do the ‘hold’ mode when driving on a freeway. Or older volts switch to ‘mountain mode’ to do the same thing.

    What is irritating is there is no way on a volt to do the other thing – namely keep it on battery power only when you KNOW you have enough before recharging.

    THe only way to accomplish that is to be sure there is no gas in the tank… This works, but then the fuel pump burns out since it thinks it has to run all the time to pump gas that isn’t there. Good thing I found this out 2 weeks before the expiration of my warranty.