Ford Focus electric cars tested in Detroit provide valuable data for engineers

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 10, 2011

Ford’s "Living Electric" exhibit during the 2011 North American International Auto Show was not all about giving visitors the chance to drive and ride an electric vehicle. It was also an opportunity for engineers at Ford to know more about the Focus Electric. Ford global electrified products program manager Shawn Lightner shared that the event presented a win-win scenario for the brand. On the one hand, customers would know more about an electric vehicle like how it works.

The company could also get the data to learn more about the Focus Electric the customers were using, Lightner continued. The brand believed that this is the best time to discover how the new EV was performing by utilizing data acquisition technology already used on other development vehicles, added Lightner. The vehicle has an onboard data acquisition system which is then linked to the car computed.

This system is tasked with gathering important information on how the vehicle is doing while it was running or even when being charged. The engineering team at Ford can then simply go online to get the data through a website.

The engineers therefore are able to monitor the vehicle even while the customers are riding in it. Lightner explained that with this, the team was able to get and even gain insight on the performance of the batteries, from charging to depletion. They would also be able to learn how much the range was per charge and other necessary data to determine how the EV was performance, he added.

During the display, the brand estimated that more than 10,000 visitors to the auto show grabbed the chance to drive the Focus Electric. The EV was driven on an elevated track that was 20 feet high, 208 feet long, and 71 feet in diameter. With the different hands-on technologies displayed, the digital tutorials, and even conversation with the experts, visitors were able to know how various EVs will meet the demands of their particular lifestyle.

The Focus Electric is the first-ever passenger car from Ford that is all-electric. One could even safely say that it is the gas-free and zero-emissions version of its already popular Focus line. Overall, the Focus Electric was designed mainly to give enough range needed to cover the daily driving habits of many Americans.

The batteries can be fully charged in around three to four hours at home using a 240-volt charge station. It also has new features and technologies like its unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system made specifically for electric vehicles. The Focus Electric also has a value charging feature courtesy of Microsoft and the MyFord Mobile smartphone app which helps owners to control vehicles remotely.

However when it comes to overall product sustainability, Ford’s strategy focuses on electrification. Under this strategy, the brand hopes to release five new EVs by 2012 to the North American market and by 2013 to the European market. Aside from the Focus Electric, the brand also released its Transit Connect Electric small commercial van back in 2010. It will also present its second-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid with the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid by 2012.

Press Release

Focus Electric Test Rides at Auto Show Provide Ford Engineers with Valuable Data

The "Living Electric" display at the 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) wasn't just an opportunity for visitors to ride in an electric vehicle – it also was a time for Ford engineers to learn more about the all-new Focus Electric.

"This was a win-win situation. While customers were able to learn about how an electric vehicle works and rides, we could pull up data and find out more about the Focus Electric they were in at the very same time," said Shawn Lightner, Ford global electrified products program manager. "We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to discover even more about how the cars perform using the data acquisition technology employed on other development vehicles."

An onboard data acquisition system was connected to the car computer, where critical information of what was happening while the vehicle was running or charging could be transmitted. Ford engineers were then able to go online and pull up data via a website to monitor information about the vehicle, while customers were riding in it.

"The Ford engineering team was able to capture and gain insight on how the batteries were performing from charging to depletion, the range the Focus Electric was getting per charge, as well as data on how the car was doing overall," explained Lightner.

At the Living Electric display on the Ford stand, more than 10,000 NAIAS visitors took a ride in a Focus Electric on an elevated track 20 feet high, 208 feet in length and 71 feet in diameter. Hands-on technology displays, digital tutorials and conversations with experts also helped people learn how different types of electrified vehicles will fit various lifestyles.

Charged up

The all-new Focus Electric – Ford's first-ever all-electric passenger car – is a zero-emissions, gasoline-free version of the company's popular global Focus model. Focus Electric is designed to offer enough range to cover the majority of daily driving habits of Americans. A full recharge is expected to take three to four hours at home with the 240-volt charge station.

Focus Electric introduces new features and technologies – including a unique version of the MyFord Touch™ driver connect system especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.

The power of choice

Electrification is an important piece of Ford's overall product sustainability strategy. Ford's aggressive strategy includes the launch of five new electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013. In addition to Focus Electric, Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will introduce C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012.

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