Ford has patent to turn on engine and charge EV battery while it’s parked (in open space)

Article by Christian A., on April 4, 2017

Ford Global Technologies filed a patent in 2015 and only recently was it published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It detailed a technology with high potential that Blue Oval came up with -- a tech in which any electric vehicle with a built-in internal combustion engine could automatically start the said engine to recharge its own battery. Now that is sweet.

Electric vehicles are all the buzz right now in the automotive industry. There are several prominent variants of electric vehicles currently introduced in the market: including pure electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf, and plug in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford C-MAX Energi. According to Paul Scott, a founding member of the EV advocacy group Plug in America, the main difference is that the hybrid has a small scale combustible engine that is being hooked to a generator. It runs via electricity but still utilizing the oil and engine to generate that electricity. In summary, the hybrid car will run on the electric charge alone and when the battery is nearly depleted, the engine will take over for the battery to charge. This will allow the client to drive farther locations until it will be eventually recharged or refuelled.

The idea of Ford is that it keeps the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) charged by using the gas engine even though the car is parked and there's no one on the driving seat. It's a bit disturbing for a car to just do that by itself but Ford thinks otherwise. The patent is officially labelled as "Electrified Vehicle Method and System for Charging During a Non-Drive Cycle."

We start to question then if Ford can make sure to avoid any accidents, fire or certain malfunctions, as there’s no one manning the EV. Well, the patent doesn't exactly indicate how the EV will identify its surroundings whether it's an open space or not, but it does highlight that the internal combustion engine will not be started in any way if the EV is in an enclosed space. Hmm, so this must mean that Ford installed some sort of sensor in the said EVs. We hope so. Also, the patent pointed out that the engine will not turn on automatically if the EV has low fuel. Moreover, the timing of the wake-ups could be based not on fuel alone but also on the temperatures and the voltage of one or both batteries. That means it could detect if the charge is below the threshold for both the accessory and the traction battery.

The EV is also programmed to send the driver text messages, commanding the driver to move the EV to an open area, or so the patent says. The tip off could be in the form of an email, an audio signal, a visual signal or other types of notification that provide a signal to the clientele driver. The charging-while-no-one-is-in-the-car system can come in handy eventually when someone prefers to leave their trendy plug-in hybrid at an airport to go outside the country.


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