Ford Focus Electric Smart Gauge and Mobile App Real World Tests
Like most electric cars these days, the Ford Focus Electric comes equipped with some nifty gadgetry. The principle overarching mission of these smart screens, gauges, and smartphone apps is to assist people to drive comfortably and free from anxiety within the electric range of the vehicle. Also it positions the vehicle as another connected element in the modern human’s world.
The behind the wheel LCD screen in the Focus electric is somewhat configurable and offers the driver feedback. In addition to the standard odometer and gear indicators found in the center there are two smaller screen elements on either side.
To the left are icons showing how much electric range is remaining in the battery. The distance to empty (DTE) is calculated based on the drivers previous energy use pattern (acceleration and braking tendencies). Next to that is the budget icon. A white line shows energy consumption at the moment, and the goal is to keep it between the blue lines to stay on budget. The budget is autmotically generated from the range remaining.
There is also an energy coach option giving feedback as to accelerating, braking, and cruising behavior so that they can be fuel economically optimized. Alternatively a simpler display of growing numbers of butterflies is shown. The more economic the driving the more the butterflies.
Another nice feature is to be able to see the real-time kwh/mile consumption, also shown at the end of the drive.
Every time one brakes a flashing circle appears. When the car comes to the stop the screen gives feedback showing how much of the kinetic energy was recaptured. It was fairly easy to get 100% recaptured.
It is a little challenging to keep the budget bar withing range – often impossible at moments of acceleration and high speed driving, but overall I did find my real world ranges aligned nicely with what the car told me to expect, a critical attribute for a pure electric vehicle.
I installed the MyFord app on my iPhone and got it connected to the electric Focus.
This is a neat app full of features that has pleasant graphics and intuitive interfaces. Once activated it shows whether the car is plugged in and the battery range at the moment. You can switch to alternative screens. One shows you all the nearest charging stations and uses mapquest to automatically show you the route and range from the car’s present location to the charging station. It accurately detected the local public Coulomb charging station I had installed in my local village.
Other screens allow you to program routes, remotely start the car to precondition the cabin. One can also lock and unlock the doors. There are notification options such as when the car is fully charged or letting you know if it isn’t plugged in when it should be. You can set charging times to optimize for when rates are lowest. There are also a whole bunch of other goodies including driving style achievements, rankings versus local champions, news feeds, and several more things.
Overall the app was smooth, responsive and consistently functional and offers reasons to keep logging back into it. A notch above, I dare say, the similar Chevy Volt app.