Ford’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 26, 2010

SmartGauge with EcoGuide's special design utilizes two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors on both sides of the analog speedometer that can be set up to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, average and instant miles-per-gallon.

A set of growing leaves and vines track and reward the driver's effectiveness. Forcing a vehicle to the ultimate limit takes on a whole new meaning in the new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids, credit is due to the Ford SmartGauge with EcoGuide: the latest in extremely high-tech instrumentations design that provides real-time data to assist drivers optimize fuel efficiency.

Ford joined forces with IDEO and Smart Design, two world leaders in helping consumers hook up with technology, to develop the apparatus cluster. Job One was properly combining the driver with the instrument's science and technology. The driver is instantly engaged by the SmartGauge displays, on both sides of the center-mounted analog speedometer, with a personalized greeting that integrates illumination and graphics.

EcoGuide then utilizes a multi-layered strategy to instruct the driver to optimize fuel efficiency. A tutorial mode built into the display that aids the driver to learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid in a fanciful way that does not overwhelm. For example, drivers can select one of four data screens to choose the data level shown during their drives.

They are: Inform: Fuel level and battery charge status Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption All information levels can show instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, odometer, engine coolant temperature, what gear the car is in and trip data (trip fuel economy, time-elapsed fuel economy and number of miles to empty).

The engine coolant temperature indicator turns green when engine conditions are warm enough to allow engine pull-down. At the heart of the instrument cluster's design was an understanding that the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) experience changes and deepens over time and the technology needed to reproduce that. The four levels of information can be tailored to fit every driver's peculiarities or situation.

If cruising on the highway, for example, only basic information may be required. Once a driver gets off the highway and turn into a city, additional information to optimize fuel economy may be received and can be quickly and conveniently accessed. Continuing fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways: either as a conventional chart or using an ground-breaking display that shows "growing leaves and vines" on the right side of the cluster panel. The more efficient a driver is, the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines, creating a graphic visual reward for the driver's efforts.

Furthermore, the real-time system feedback permits drivers to evaluate or alter their driving habits to attain optimized fuel economy. A shutdown screen appraises important data from the latest trip, including fuel economy performance and comparative data from previous trips. Comprehensive studies were completed to guarantee that the instrument cluster is as driver-friendly as possible.

Archetype testing was done in Ford's Virtual Text Track Experiment (VIRTTEX) simulator, the industry's largest driver interruption laboratory managed by an automaker. Test drivers were able to safely interrelate with the new technology as engineers gathered information and helped improve SmartGauge, aiding drivers in making informed decisions without being distracting or overwhelming.

Topics: ford, technology

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