There is no doubt any one of us could get more efficiency out of our cars, EV or not, by learning to drive them in an optimized way.
Ford thinks the same and found a way to get its hybrid vehicles to learn certain travel patterns from its drivers and optimize the time these vehicles are used in pure EV mode.
Called EV+, the patent-pending feature helps vehicles learn frequent destinations and use this knowledge to deliver hybrid drivers what they love: more driving time in electric-only mode.
EV+ is part of Ford’s SmartGauge and is a standard feature on Ford’s plug-in hybrids, C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi, along with the hybrid versions of the Fusion and the C-MAX.
“We know from our research that hybrid drivers want to drive as often as they can in electric-only mode, especially near their home or frequently visited locations,” said Kevin Layden, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “EV+ not only delivers that capability, but also demonstrates how Ford puts customer needs and wants above everything else.”
Per Ford, EV+ combines the built-in GPS of Ford SYNC with proprietary software algorithms developed by Ford engineers to learn frequent destinations.
Once frequent destinations have been learned – such as the driver’s home parking location – EV+ adjusts how the electric power stored in the vehicle’s high-voltage battery is used to power the vehicle.
If EV+ determines the vehicle is nearing a frequent destination, it has the capability to remain in electric-only mode.
“We already have a GPS unit in every Ford with SYNC, so really it was just a matter of tapping into that the right way,” said Layden. “This is one of the first examples of how we’re looking to make the car smarter, by leveraging onboard data to provide features and services that add value to the driving experience.”
EV+ is part of a growing list of roughly 500 hybrid-specific patents Ford has accumulated in the last 20 years. Ford says these patents include everything from the leaves on the cluster screen of SmartGauge and the hands-free liftgate of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi to an available EV-only mode button that allows customers to access electric power on-demand.
EV+ was developed by two Ford employees: Ken Frederick, HEV powertrain calibration engineer, and Matt Smith, product design engineer. They are the authors of the patent application that was recently published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
When engaged, EV+ uses onboard GPS equipment and predictive software algorithms written by Frederick and Smith to learn the latitude and longitude of a vehicle and identify locations that are visited on a frequent basis, such as home and work. The feature can be disabled and the data erased at the push of a button.
When the feature identifies frequent destinations, the way electric power is used changes. Specifically, when within a radius of one-eighth mile, or 200 meters, of a frequent stop, the vehicle has increased capability to stay in electric-only mode, the internal combustion engine stays off, and an “EV+” light appears on the dashboard.
“One of Ford’s biggest strengths is the quality of our controls and calibration. We do all of that work in-house and it shows when we deliver a feature like EV+,” said Rob Iorio, Ford Electrified Propulsion Systems Manager. “No other automaker seamlessly integrates global positioning and propulsion system control as we have with EV+.”