2013 Ford C-Max Energi: New EV+ Feature 'Learns' Regular Routes

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2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid

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Every driver of a plug-in hybrid electric car eventually wants to drive more on electricity and less on gasoline.

So it's frustrating when the battery charge indicator shows a reasonable level of charge, you're only a few hundred feet from home, and yet the engine kicks on because of that one steep hill.

Wouldn't it be nice if the car could "know" that it was close to its destination, where it would be recharged?

That's exactly what Ford has built into its new 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid hatchback. (It'll also most likely appear on the upcoming 2013 Ford Fusion Energi as well.)

The new "EV+" feature lets the C-Max Energi learn frequent destinations over time, using a proprietary predictive software algorithm developed by two Ford engineers, Ken Frederick and Matt Smith.

The algorithm uses the Energi's onboard GPS equipment to monitor the latitude and longitude of frequently visited locations. (Ford hastens to assure us that the locations can be erased "at the push of a button.")

If the car senses it's getting near a location where it's customarily plugged in to recharge, it will change the way power is used--depleting its battery pack further than it normally would.

Specifically, if you're within an eighth of a mile--or 200 meters--of one of those locations, the car keeps itself in electric-only mode.

Drivers will see this is happening because the EV+ alert light on the instrument cluster illuminates.

That delivers more electric-only driving, which not only gives a marginal reduction in gasoline usage, but keeps the car in its smoothest quietest mode for longer.

And that makes drivers happier.


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Comments (13)
  1. I'm really curious as to whether Ford has got an over the air update mechanism for this kind of software like Tesla and Renault/Better Place do.

  2. 1/8 miles? hahaha... maybe next time the driver can just slow down by about 1 miles on the hwy and it will get to home just fine...

  3. Xiaolong; wont work. only need a steep enough hill and EREV's will kick on the gas engine with plenty of battery available

  4. Not true. In my Volt, the engine does come on until it uses at least 10.5KWh. If you save the energy before you get to the big hill, then the car will be okay as long as you don't push it too hard to go over it. That is what happens with my work and home. The last 1.2 mile to work require a big climb up the hill. I just make sure that I have enough "range" left before I get to the hill.

    Instead of training the car, I trained myself.

    Also, pushing the "battery" farther into its range daily just b/c the so called 1/8 miles is no different than using more % of the battery.

  5. The Volt is a different animal than most plug in hybrids.

  6. 200 yards is nothing for the battery and a attitude saver for the driver. We were saying this would be great to have on Volts, for years before job one. Guess Ford was listening.

  7. LOVE this option!! but hopefully it wont degrade into a "Big Brother is watching" argument or another repetitive "I agree" prompt. I wish my LEAF had it so I could get a realistic estimate of my remaining range so I could adjust my driving early in the trip instead of scrambling for charging locations near the end of my trip. With the GID meter, I already am able to do exactly that but have to take topography, road conditions and my personal knowledge into consideration on my own. Having the computer do it for me would GREATLY enhance my driving experience!

  8. @David, my understanding is that your Leaf already does more than what Ford's system will. More in my comment below.

  9. In other words, this software is similar to Google NOW present in Android 4.1 and above. How nice of Ford to copy Google so quickly.

  10. I'm not at all sure why you are inferring that Ford "copied" Google's NOW. NOW is an ap for a handheld device (that you shouldn't be messing with when you drive). The Ford system is an enhancement that uses data already available within the vehicle system to integrate automatically the GPS and battery data with to make adjustments to electric/ICE operation. No Google ap can do that.

    This system is "tip of the iceburg" and can get stronger over time with more refined algorithms to reduce fuel consumption and plan charging without drivers having to manually press "EV Now" or "EV Later" buttons. Other PHEV manufacturers certainly will follow.

  11. If I understand correctly, what this feature does is delay starting up the gas engine if you happen to be very close to where you charged in the past.

    It doesn't "learns routes" or anything like this, it just remembers (some) charging locations.

    Not that it's a bad thing, surely owners will appreciate not having the engine kicking in right as they pull into their garage (although I'd hope normal people do so slowly enough that this won't happen regardless), but pretending that proximity checking is not trivial to implement is pure marketing smelly stuff.

    Or did I miss something?

    [Btw, for different reasons obviously, the Leaf does about the same, automatically adding charging locations to its navigation system. It's configurable.]

  12. "About the same" only counts in horse shoes and sometimes atom bombs :) Does Nissan automatically shut down the ICE when you are near a charging station you have used frequently before?

    If not, then updating a map, that is mediocre at best, when compared to the best charging location aps, differs from the function Ford is adding to the C-Max.

    The functions won't be comparable with a Ford EREV and Nissan EV. Since the Nissan does not have an engine to turn off.

  13. I do wish this was on my Volt. I do literally have that exact situation to contend with. The ICE will sometimes kick on while I am driving up the driveway, usually about point one or point two miles until in garage. This idea could solve that.

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