Tag Archives: Electric

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!).


Ford working on CCS for the FFE?

Is for working on CCS for the FFE? A couple too many acronyms there? Ok we know FFE = Ford Focus Electric as I’ve been using that in this blog for quite some time now, but CCS? CCS = Combined Charging Standard. It is the “fast charge” capability that SAE (yeah another acronym: Society of Automotive Engineers) had developed for North America.

To date Ford has said nothing about any improvements to the FFE. Just a year ago when they announced the 2015 ICE Focus the big news for the FFE was an additional color that was it. Since then Ford has said not so much as a peep about the future of the FFE (or even any possible BEV product). When they announced the 2015 Focus there was rumors that Ford would be including a Focus Energi. That rumor made a lot of sense: They already had the powertrain developed, it is already in a Focus based product (the C-Max), therefore it would take very little engineering to get done. Alas the 2014 auto show circuit came and went with no new news on any electrified Focus (or Ford BEV model).

Fast forward to today: We are in the middle of the auto season here (with the LA Auto show kicking it off last fall and the Detroit Auto show in a week). Included in this is CES. Now CES isn’t your usual auto show, but Ford has had a keynote address there for the past few years (in fact it was back in 2011 that Ford announced the FFE at the CES). This years Ford CES keynote can be viewed here. I encourage you to take the time to watch it as it shows the very different direction Ford is taking/planning for way out in the future. Pay careful attention at the 29 minute mark, though where Mark Fields says this:

It would also be beneficial if urban shared vehicles were electric. Because not only do they lower operating costs they also can be refueled in their parking space. But shared EVs need time to charge and in Dearborn we are developing fast charging technology for our vehicles. Plus we’re looking at partnerships with retail and fast food businesses to develop fast charging infrastructure. Because we want to make EVs easer to use because when more people chose EVs everyone benefits from the lower emissions.

The context of the quote is for an urban vehicle sharing environment but the last few sentences (about businesses and what they are doing in Dearborn) hints that they are already working on this for production vehicles. The only fast charging technology that Ford has publicly bought into is the J1772 CCS standard (and the photo in the video seems to imply that is what is on the FFE shown–including a much simpler charge port door):

CCS Fast charging doesn’t really make sense for the Energi products with their 21-mile range and small batteries. It only really makes sense for the FFE or another large battery BEV. Thus one could conclude from this small morsel of information that either a CCS enabled FFE is coming down the pipeline, or that Ford is working on another BEV for the marketplace?

Will Ford slip in more pieces of info like this at the Detroit Auto show in a week? You’ll have to pay close attention (like I did pulling the above needle out of a haystack)..!


What to do about heat?

When you look under the hood of the FFE you notice that it has a rather large radiator (most likely its the same part in the ICE Focus–they look very similar). A large radiator like that is designed to dissipate a lot of heat something which the FFE doesn’t generate much of whilst driving around. The whole arrangement shows an interesting design decision on the part of Ford…

When you look at the front of the FFE you see the fake grill and a small opening for air below it, permitting a lot less airflow while driving than the conventionally powered Focus. In this pic you can clearly see the difference:
Red Focus Blue Focus
The front of the ICE Focus is open whereas the FFE just has that gap at the bottom. The reason for this is obvious on the ICE Focus: The gas engine generates a lot of waste heat that must be removed to prevent an overheat situation–even in cold weather there is still plenty of waste heat to go around.

For the FFE on the other hand: Very little heat is generated while driving and thus the front can be a solid nose (with a little decoration); even rounded a bit in an attempt to improve aerodynamics (look at most EVs they all will have very little pass-through). What about that large radiator though? This comes into play during charging and on hot days. The FFE has a battery temperature management system. When charging the battery generates a lot of heat. Heat that also must be dissipated to prevent damage to the battery. This is the reason for the large radiator: To help with this heat removal. In addition, when charging, the car is stationary so there is no forced air coming in from the front; airflow must be generated by the radiator fan (most likely also the same part number as on the ICE Focus). Indeed, during charging I quite frequently hear the radiator fan running at full speed (especially near the end of the charge cycle).

The other use for the radiator is similar: removing heat but this is during a hot day. When the outside temperature gets a bit hot out the car will “complain” that its hot out and should be plugged in. This is to use the fan, and if needed the chiller, to remove heat from the battery if it gets too warm (something it won’t do if parked and not plugged in).

Note that the car also complains when parked and its cold out to be plugged in so that it can keep the battery warm.

I bet you were expecting different subject matter when reading the title of the post?


More colors!

With the 2015 model year Ford has added at least one new color for the FFE: Ruby Red. This is welcome news since prior model years only offered one “splashy” color along with the standard list of conservative colors (white, black, silver).

My own anecdotal observations show that this is much needed (e.g. non-scientific wild guess LOL). I see a lot of the current “splashy” color, Blue Candy (BC), around. At the moment I know of at least 6 FFE’s in Blue Candy on my side of town: In addition to mine and my coworkers I’ve seen on several occasions BC FFE’s driving around (granted all of the ones I’ve seen could all be the same one). These sightings are in addition to the several BC conventional Focuses I see a day (again these all could be the same cars, especially since I take the same route to/from work and thus are probably seeing the same drivers along their same route).

This is, of course, all unscientific and simply my observations since studies have shown, over and over again that the most popular car colors are the three conservative ones: black, white, silver. (For some data see here). At least its nice that Ford is giving the new FFE driver another choice in Red–I probably would have chose that Red had it been available at the time of my order.


How does the FFE Charge?

This question could be answered in many ways depending on how you interpret the question: There is a technical answer (it uses a 6.6kW charger inside the car), simply (you just plug it in and it charges), how much current is used, how fast does it get to 100%.

In this case I was interested in the last answer above: Does the FFE’s % battery full “meter”/value increase linearly when charging? Li-Ion batteries themselves don’t charge up linearly. As the battery gets closer to full the internal resistance of the battery increases making it harder to force more electrons in and thus the charging rate of the battery slows down the closer to full it gets. If you were to plot this you’d get a curve where charging is quite fast at the beginning then as you approach 100% it flattens out slowly approaching 100%.

Having done a little reverse engineering on the API that the mobile app and the website use I was able to make a program that logs the % battery value and the range over time. Now if I were to log these values during a charge cycle I could produce a graph to see the charge curve. The graph could be a line as the internal software in the FFE could normalize the % value to a line while charging (to simplify it for users). Frankly I don’t think they would go through that much effort–there would be no benefit to anyone (other than geeky people like me who write blog posts about graphing the car charging! LOL). So I give you my FFE’s charging plot from about 35% to full on a freezing Friday evening:
Charge Plot
The blue line is the % battery value and the orange line is the estimated range value (only topping out at 70 miles here due to the cold days we’ve been having and the fact that I’ve been using the heater).
What surprises me the most about this plot is how flat it is. I was expecting it to be much steeper with a pronounced knee near the end as it flattened out. Note that there are a few gaps in the data as the API timed out or otherwise gave an error. There is also an unexpected turn faster around 10:00pm where it charges slightly faster. I wonder if this is where the temperature management system kicked in to cool the battery a bit allowing for a slightly faster charge..

I have another idea for this logging: What if I were to let it log while I was driving the car around? That plot may also prove interesting as the % battery value would decrease in a predictable manner but the estimated range (the guess-O-meter) value would be all over the place depending on if the heat was on or off, if I was on the freeway, etc. Some more experimentation is in order here…

My “My Ford Mobile”

It turns out that simply using the developer tools in Chrome you can reverse engineer the REST interface to My Ford Mobile….and make your own app!
My My Ford Mobile
What you see here is just dumping out some fields that are returned by a “get battery condition” call. It isn’t as pretty as the official MFM app (and mine won’t be: I’m a programmer not a designer). Not sure how far I’ll take it, but its fun to hack around with.


The beginning of EV Winter

Today marked the beginning of EV winter, or FFE winter if you will. Yeah another cold weather post–I know move south already LOL.

The momentous occasion to mark this event is that today was the first day, for me, when the car complained that its cold outside and should be plugged in. This morning our outside temps are about 24F–about two weeks ahead of “normal” for us.

Even though I’ve been through this once already I’m still experimenting. This week I bumped the precondition temps back up to 85F so the car would be nice and toasty again. The experimentation this time: Many people on the forums have mentioned that to prevent the windows from fogging up simply crack a window. Hmm if this works effectively and I still stay warm it could be the best way to drive in with the lowest power consumption in the dead of winter. This morning I had the drivers window cracked about 1/2″ and HVAC off for my 15 mile commute in. The window never fogged up and the temperature remained quite reasonable. I’ll have to try 1/4″ next week….



Another novel use for the FFE

Found another novel use for the FFE:
Another novel use

What am I doing here? It would appear that I’m charging the FFE off of a covered RV. The novel use here is to provide a load for the generator in the RV. While in extended storage (say over winter) the engines have to be run about once a month or so. For the generator the Onan people told me that when you do run it you have to provide a load. I don’t think I could provide a better load to the generator than having the FFE charge with its Level 1 EVSE (which will draw about 12 amps).

Other options for drawing a load would be the A/C (which shouldn’t be run in cold weather), or a ceramic heater (which would have the benefit of heating the interior of the RV). In both of those cases, though, the electricity produced will simply vanish into the air. With the FFE the electricity goes to good use charging the battery (granted only using Level 1 for about 20 minutes I’ll be lucky enough to get a mile…maybe).