Monthly Archives: October 2013

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The “Guess O Meter”

Every EV has one, heck even many ICE cars have one: The “Guess O Meter” (in ICE cars it is called “Distance to Empty” which, unlike EVs, tends to be pretty accurate). I initially heard about the term “Guess O Meter” (GOM) by some Nissan Leaf drivers before I even owned my Focus Electric. The number of miles left in the battery would vary wildly in their cars even, in some cases, within the duration of a single drive!

In short the meter is supposed to give you an accurate representation of how many miles you can go with the charge left in the battery (likewise the ICE version “Distance to Empty” (DTE) is how many miles you can go with the gas left in the tank). On an ICE vehicle the DTE reading is pretty accurate and doesn’t fluctuate much–and rarely, if ever, increases. Not so on an EV. Here is an experiment: Take your EV out on the highway for a few miles and watch the GOM drop precipitously; next, on the same trip, drive slowly around some residential streets for a few minutes and watch the GOM climb and climb.

An extreme case of this: My coworker took his FFE down the Woodward Dream Cruise this past summer where he had to drive it under 10 mph for quite a few miles. His GOM rose and rose and rose topping 200 miles at one point!

Now Green Car Reports has just posted this article about a long range drive with a Tesla Model S and I found this quote rather informative:

I don’t have a lot of faith in the Model S range meter. Its number is a projection based on rule-of-thumb efficiency assumptions, battery temperature, and a safety fudge factor.  (New York Times reporter Jonathan Broder famously fell victim to wildly fluctuating range numbers.) I call it the guess-o-meter.

Well look at that! Even the much praised Tesla Model S’s range meter is as wild as my FFE’s!

From my experience the GOM seems to place too much stock in the most recent driving performance and ignores the longer term average. I would suspect that it would be far more accurate if it simply used the rolling average of the power consumption over the past week or two (instead of appearing to only use the past 20 minutes or so!). Using a longer term rolling average would also make it a bit more stable and not change so drastically (I think this is what gets most people: Drive for a few miles and all of the sudden you are up or down 20 miles).

 

Lets take a road trip..

According to this article it is now possible to drive an EV from Detroit all the way to Montreal using only Level 2 charging. That is quite the distance; lets say though that I want to drive from Detroit to Toronto using my Focus Electric–how long would that take? (I know my wife, reading this, would look at me and say: “You want to do this don’t you?” LOL)

We’ve driven this trip before in an ICE car–it usually takes about 4 hours or so. Google calculates it out at 231 miles and 3 hours 46 minutes. How long would such a trip take in the FFE?

First lets take a look at the charger map, from the article above:
Canada charger map
If I were to take this trip on a nice spring or fall day (in the 70s F) I could expect a good 75 miles out of the car (with a little bit of reserve for driving around searching for the charge station). This means I’d have to stop and charge about 3 times for a full recharge and once to get enough to get into the city (In reality we’d probably be charging more frequently as the stations wouldn’t exactly match the point where we’d need them). Assuming the battery is completely empty after the 75 miles means our travelers would have to wait about 3.5 hours at each stop for the car to fully charge back up on the Level 2 charger. So on top of our normal 4 hour drive we’re now also waiting an additional 10.5 hours + the bit extra at the end of the trip (most likely about 45 minutes or so to get that last little bit). It is possible that the full recharge may only take 3 hours–I’ve noticed at ChargePoint stations my car seems to charge a bit faster than at my own Level 2 station perhaps the ChargePoint station is providing a little bit more current than the car asked for?? Lets say that it only takes 3 hours to charge up–now we’re talking 9 hours instead of 10.5. Even with that reduction we’re still looking at a long 13 hour day.

Thus to contemplate such a journey perhaps an overnight at a hotel somewhere in the middle might make the trip a bit more palatable (stop and pick up a play in London perhaps which is 121 miles or a charge and a half away from Detroit).

The above is exactly why EVs, at this point in time, are mostly used as commuter cars (as mine is)*. Even so, I’m always looking around for that in-city trip that can stretch the range beyond one “tank” of electrons.

* Of course the Tesla Model S with Super Chargers installed on the 401 would make the trip as simply as an ICE car can.

Update: Green Car Reports just posted this article about a long range drive with a Tesla. An interesting read–it may deserve its own blog post…

Things they are a changing…

Users of the My Ford Mobile website have been getting the following e-mail regarding the site and some changes that will be happening this weekend:

Dear Focus Electric MyFord Mobile User,

This email was sent to inform you of the changes to the Focus Electric version of the MyFord Mobile website and mobile app. In order to provide the best consumer experience the Focus Electric version of MyFord Mobile will be merged with the Plug-In Hybrid version to create a single, user-friendly interface.

On Sunday, October 13th, from midnight to approximately 8 AM Eastern Time, the Focus Electric MyFord Mobile website and mobile app will be unavailable as we perform the necessary updates. During this time, any charge settings you have previously entered will function properly but will not be able to be altered via MyFord Mobile; this includes both Value Charging and GO Times features.

How will this benefit you?

  • By combining the infrastructure of both the Focus Electric and Plug-In Hybrid versions of MyFord Mobile it will enable Ford to make future enhancements more quickly.

How will this impact you?

  • You will still be able to use your existing user name and password on the new site.  In the event that you have both a Focus Electric and a Plug-In Hybrid account, the Plug-In Hybrid account credentials will take precedence.
  • There will be a new MyFord Mobile app available for both iPhone and Android. The existing Focus Electric app will no longer function or receive updates. You will need to delete the existing app and download the new app.
  • To ensure the system is displaying the most recent vehicle and driving information, you should press the “Update” button immediately after logging into MyFord Mobile.
  • Your data will be migrated from the current version to the new version.
  • You will have to re-enter any Value Charge times after selecting the “Update” button.

In addition, as we streamline the user experience the following features will be affected:

  • The Discussion forum will become available one week later on October 20th
  • Trip Planner will be available only on the mobile app
  • Facebook and Twitter integration for driving achievements will be discontinued

We apologize for any inconvenience during this change as we make this change, and we wish many more all-electric miles in your future. Should you have any issues after the conversion please call the Customer Relationship Center at 1-800-392-3673. After the language prompt please select option 3 and then option 4 to be connected with the team that interacts with consumers on Ford’s In-Vehicle Technology.  The hours of operation are 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM M-F and 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM Saturday (Eastern Time).

Regards,

Beth Profitt
MyFord Mobile Manager, Connected Services
Ford Motor Company

Looks like Ford will be integrating the two sites: The Focus BEV site and the Fusion/C-Max PHEV site. Originally there was only one: www.myfordmobile.com that was split into two with the launch of the Fusion/C-Max Energi vehicles (about 18 months ago). So now we are going back to one site. My take on this is that it is most likely a good thing; perhaps even, the combined site will work better (I’m sure the PHEV site was getting more attention from the backend due to the high volume of PHEV vehicle sales).

Maybe the car will feel all new again–granted I’ve only had the car now for 3 months so it still feels pretty new anyway! LOL

I suspect that trip planning via MapQuest will still work properly (detailed in this post) since that is a feature of My Ford Touch and not My Ford Mobile.

Electrons for everyone!

Here is an interesting graphic showing the # of charging stations by state:
Charging stations by state
A different representation of the data can be found here:
PopSci charge stations
For the EV driver this information is good: new stations are being installed all over the country. The thing I find interesting is that most of the new stations are being installed East of the Mississippi river–not along the coasts. Although if you really look closely I’d guess that the most new stations are now being installed where the population is most dense (e.g. East of the Mississippi and along the coasts). That would be an indication that EVs are becoming part of the mainstream and not as much a niche vehicle anymore…

 

Helpful hint: Don’t remote start the car while sitting in it!

Yes I know why would you do that!? Well this afternoon I found that the car wasn’t updating and My Ford Mobile could not communicate with it. So I proceeded to investigate and was able to get it to respond by rebooting the telematics module (on the FFE this is accomplished by simply pulling fuse F1 in the fuse panel in the trunk and replacing it–this is typically the first thing to try when the FFE cannot communicate with My Ford Mobile).

So while sitting in the car making sure everything was still working I remote started it with the smartphone app and then shut the car off. It was at this point that the car lost its mind when I opened the door to exit–the dash reported “No Key Present” (I was holding the key in my hand!) followed by “Alarm! Start car to cancel”. Pressing the brake and the start button produced no results other than the lights flashing and the horn honking as the alarm state was triggered. This happened twice before I was able to get the car to recognize that, yes indeed, the key was present (the FFE doesn’t use a traditional “key”–its an RFID keyfob that must be present in the car to start it).

The good news of all of this is that on My Ford Mobile it did report that the alarm was triggered twice!

So mental note: Don’t remote start the car while sitting in it! LOL

 

Where ever you go; there you are.

One feature of the MyFord Touch (and MyLincoln Touch–forgot to mention that: anything that talks about MyFord Touch also applies to MyLincoln) that I use quite frequently and briefly touched on in my Tricks and Tips post is the ability to send a map destination to the car from a computer or smartphone. I find this feature useful enough that it needs its own how to do this post by itself…

First things first, though, before attempting any of this you need to have your cell phone and car “linked” up both using the bluetooth connection in the car and linked up on http://www.syncmyride.com. This is a separate website from the My Ford Mobile site Focus Electric users use to check their battery, remote start the car, etc. The syncmyride site is setup for all MyFord Touch owners to use for checking for updates, enabling sync services, scheduling service, etc. To use the download destination feature you need to be signed up for sync services and have your cell phone # registered on syncmyride.  The good news is that this setup is done only once so you can set it up and forget it (although you won’t want to completely forget it! LOL).

Now that you have sync services setup you can try it out: go out to the car, start it, press the sync button, and say “services”. The car will use your cell phone and dial into an 800 # at Ford. You’ll hear a similar voice to the sync voice–but this one is from a server through your phone–you can say: “traffic”, “weather”, “sports”, etc. to get various reports. (Since this service is through Ford instead of Sirius/XM you can still use this if your Sirius/XM account for the car expires–although I highly recommend keeping your Sirius/XM account subscribed.)

How to send a destination: I’m going to detail using MapQuest to send the destination to the car but you can also do this through the MyFord Mobile website or smartphone app.

On your computer browse to http://www.mapquest.com and enter in an address (for the purposes of this instruction I’ll use Joe Louis Arena’s address in Detroit):
Joe Louis Arena

To send the destination to the car click on the “Send” button at the top right. A drop down menu will appear: click on “Car”.
MapQuest Send Button
On the next window click on “Sync”:
MapQuest send to window
Finally enter in your cell phone # (the one registered to Sync Services) and (optionally) a name for the destination:
MapQuest send to phone

Now run out to your car, really it only works if you run! (ok just kidding you can take as long as you want. Sync services will remember the last destination sent to it until you download it into the car). In your car start it up and press the Sync button; at the prompt say “services”. When connected instead of asking for a command services will say: “MapQuest has sent you a waypoint to …. Do you wish to navigate there?” answer “yes” and wait about a minute while it downloads the destination. When it is done the phone will hang up, the right screen on the dash will say something like “destination downloaded” and the main MFT display will be on the navigation screen showing you the destination (don’t be concerned if the navigation screen labels the destination as “Street, City, State” look at the map it will be showing the proper location).

MFT display showing destination

Thats it; you can now hit “set as dest” on the screen (or press the sync button and say “set as dest”). Either way the car will take you there…

Note that on the Focus Electric after pressing “set as dest” the car will ask you if you will be charging the car at the destination. I find myself always answering “yes” to this question as I find the displays that show up when answering yes are quite useful.

Video “Manual”?

On YouTube Ford has several channels (Ford, FordOwner, FordFocus, etc.) where they provide marketing, and how to videos. Several of these are relevant to the Focus Electric; like this one on “how it works”. Ford has even created a playlist of all the Focus Electric videos. I don’t see this video in the playlist though: “Your miles per charge” on how to manage the range.

In many cases these videos are more current and detailed than the owners manual! When they released updates to My Ford Touch they updated the videos before it was released (the owners manual really doesn’t say much about MFT anyway).

While I waited for my Focus to be built I often found myself watching these (trust me, though, watching these is no substitute for actually owning one! LOL).

 

Ready to “Go”…

An interesting feature in the Focus Electric that I think I’ll enjoy much more as the weather gets chillier is the “Go Times”. Along with scheduling when it charges you can also schedule the car to “turn on” up to twice a day. About 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled time, if plugged in, the car will power up and set the climate system to a desired temperature (65, 72, or 85 degrees F).

This works out quite well if you have a fixed schedule during the week: My car is setup to warm itself up to 72 degrees every weekday morning just before I leave for work. I figured out that the car will keep running for up to 15 minutes after the “Go” time and have thus scheduled the time to 10 minutes prior my departure time–this lets the car warm up (or cool down) for an extra 10 minutes before I leave (something I’m sure will come in handy in January!).

In addition to heating/cooling the cabin for the driver’s comfort; setting the “Go” time also lets the car heat/cool the battery to the optimum temperature. This piece of the “Go” times is likely more important than driver comfort as the battery’s performance is affected more by temperature than the driver’s. A very hot or very cold battery will not provide the same range in the car as one at a nice and toasty 70 degrees or so.