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.