Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Cars traded up for like phones

Now this is an interesting article:

Upgrade envy has helped Apple Inc. sell millions of pricey iPhones. Now, it’s the auto industry’s turn, thanks to a raft of new technologies that make cars safer and easier to drive. Must-have features like parking assist and wireless Web access have helped automakers recover from the 2009 bust and charge record prices for their vehicles.

I can see this happening more with EVs than with ICE vehicles especially because over the next few years battery technology should be increasing. As an example several manufacturers have already announced plans for low cost longer range EVs (Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla).

As pointed out in the article vehicle technology is increasing at a more rapid pace but it still takes a good 2-3 years to move a vehicle into production. This makes a 3 year lease a good option for people who want to stay on the cutting edge of vehicle technology.

Of course not everyone can afford to continuously have a $300+ car payment. There still are quite a few people that purchase there cars with the intention of driving them well past the last payment–EVs should be good for that as there is less maintenance and less wear & tear on the drivetrain.

Brrrr yup another winter weather post

Hey I haven’t posted a winter weather post for a few months now! LOL I’m due for one.

This morning our thermometer’s are reading -11F which is a record in these parts (official temp this morning -10F, old record was -8F from 1934). In these brutal days I pretty much use all of the battery for my 30 mile commute, arriving home with the <10 mile remaining warning indicator showing. I find my non-symmetric power consumption interesting: In the morning I precondition the car and attempt to use as little electricity is possible on my way in. For the drive home, however, I crank the heat and take the freeway maximizing power consumption. The net result is that I use about 25-30% of the battery in the morning and almost 60% of the battery in the evening.

Another thing that is noticeable about the car in such cold weather: The noise. On a balmy 70F degree day the car is virtually silent with only a slight whrrr noise from the front. In temps this cold things shrink and start rubbing differently, the plastic squeaks, the window creaks, the driver moans, etc. Makes you feel like something is going to break during the commute.

Thankfully this cold spell is happening in the 2nd half of February which means it can’t last too long…right? (Last year the cold spell started in January and thus the light at the end of the tunnel was a lot further off).

 

Enhanced Trip Meter

Nearing the end of my series on the dashboard (maybe one or two more) we come to the “Enhanced Trip Meter”:

You turn this on by using the left arrow pad on the steering wheel, select “trip 1 & 2” then press the right arrow. From the menu that appears select “Enhanced”.

Ford has a brief video on the trip meters:

Its a good idea to use one of the trip meters to watch the battery: Reset it every time you charge to full. The total kWh value shown will give you a good idea of how much you have left (more than just the % value shown everywhere). The FFE has about 18.5 kWh of usable battery charge thus comparing that with the kWh value in the trip meter is another decent estimate of power remaining (the kWh value in the trip meter will actually count down during brake regeneration).

The Wh/mi value shows the average Wh/mi consumption since you reset the meter and is a good way to judge how efficient you’re driving. In the above image 240 Wh/mi is really good for my FFE in the dead of winter. Typically when I have to use the heat the value will be 300 Wh/mi or higher (in one instance it was really cold out and I was driving on the highway into the wind it read over 400 Wh/mi). In the summer months it is not uncommon to see values in the 220s range or lower depending on the roads driven.

For those people who like hard numbers and not pretty graphs the enhanced trip meter provides plenty of engineering eye candy.

 

Budget + Avg

By far the most used and popular dash view/configuration (at least within the myfocuselectric forums) is using MyView showing the climate and “other” current power consumption combined with the Budget + Avg item on the right. I’ve mentioned this display in my “What your dashboard can tell you” post.
The view looks like this:

Ford has a video about how to configure MyView:

 

(This is the same video I posted in the Range View post.)

This view gives you the most information available about power consumption in the car. The climate graph shows how much power (kW) that the HVAC is currently using (on a cold winter day running the heat will frequently peg this graph). “Other” shows everything else: rear defroster, headlights, radio, seat heat, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “other” go above a tick or two.

Below the two graphs is the usual budget and status values showing the range at start (budget) and the difference between the current calculated range and range at start (status). More explanation of budget/status can be found here.

To the right of those is the infamous “blue cup” (discussed at length here). This gauge is showing three values simultaneously: Budget, instant consumption, and average consumption all in Wh/mile x100. The budget is represented by the blue cup. Instant consumption is the white line and finally average consumption is the two white tick marks. The basics of this display: If you can keep the two white tick marks (average consumption) at or below the top of the blue cup then you will make the budgeted range. If the tick marks fall significantly below the top of the cup you’ll go much farther than the budgeted range. If you’re really driving bad/aggressively and the tick marks are above the blue cup you will not be able to go as far as the budgeted range.

I can easily say that this display stays on my left side dash for a good 95% of my driving if not more (other than the past few weeks when I’ve been experimenting with different displays for these series of posts).

 

Energy History

Next up, the Energy History view:

I had wrote about this view earlier. Note that in that post I had about 5000 miles on the car, and in the above image I’m quickly approaching 20000 miles. Time flies when you’re having fun (although I don’t think my skills at capturing images from the dash have improved at all).

Ford even has a helpful video on the Energy History view:

Although their car is brand spanky new with only 147 miles on it!

The item that this view misses is the white tick marks on the “budget cup” at left showing your average power consumption. Those are the most useful of all the dash displays and are only available on one setting. Another thing I’d change to this view would be to add your average for the time period as its being calculated (shade inside the leftmost graph just like the 5 others but the height is the current minutes average) that way when they shift to the right you already know what the value is going to be.

I will frequently use this display with it set to 1 minute intervals as party of the configurable “MyView” shown in the image above. I find that the longer intervals are only useful if your trip is substantially longer than the total. With 1 minute intervals the display shows your power consumption over the past 5 minutes (2 minute intervals shows 10 minutes, etc.). The funny thing is that the white line shows you your “instant” power consumption: You can spend the whole minute keeping the white line below the blue cup and then see a yellow bar when it scrolls to the right–you could have a small instance of great power consumption that completely overrides the conservative driving for the rest of the minute.

A quick glance at this display shows how you’ve been doing for the past few minutes: If you see a lot of yellow you’re over budget, blue you’re good.

 

Range View

Now that I’m really comfortable driving the FFE around (I should be after a year and a half! LOL) I figure it might be a good time to produce a few articles on some of the different displays/gauges available on the FFE.

Today’s gauge is the “Range View” gauge:

This view can be shown on its own or as the left side of the MyView display. For more on MyView watch this Ford video:

Note that the MyView video above is pretty old and does show some “views” that are not currently available on the dash of the FFE’s MyView. In addition here is another Ford video discussing the range view:

A quick discussion on the FFE forums revealed what I had suspected: Almost nobody uses this gauge. The scaling of the numbers seems to enhance range anxiety rather than alleviate it (calling out the last 10 miles of the available range). In addition the view doesn’t seem like it would be very useful unless you frequently drove the car to less than 10 miles remaining. The display does graphically represent the two numbers shown below it (the budget and status, or distance to destination and surplus).

When you program in a destination on the Nav screen the range view switches (like the other displays on the FFE) to distance to destination and surplus. The switch does make the display marginally more effective.

I’ve been driving around with this gauge setup for the past few days. My impression has been that, for my commute where I don’t need Nav and I use less than 50% of the battery, it isn’t that useful. It was rather interesting the one time I used Nav with it watching the graph slide towards zero as I approached the destination (the only place in the car showing such a graph even though the numerical value is shown in 3 different places in the car!).