Tag Archives: Range

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!).


Really extending the range of the Focus Electric

In a previous post I showed my spare vehicle I use for rough weather, hauling stuff, etc. when the FFE can’t cut it.

Well, we don’t have either of those anymore. At a recent camper show we kind of traded all that in on a new camper (the camper on the left):
Axis Motorhome

Mind you this guy still has a V-10 ICE in it (our third vehicle with a V-10 in it). In addition it also has a 4kW generator in it for dry camping and/or tailgating, etc. I can think of another use for it: Charging up my FFE while we pull it down the road (on a trailer, though, since the FFE cannot be towed with any wheels on the ground). All I need for it is a trailer (an aluminum one at that as the FFE by itself is close to the tow ratings of the Axis). Granted: since the genny is only a 4kW model I can only use the EVSE that came with the FFE–can’t use a level 2 with it. This shouldn’t be an issue as most campgrounds have 50A plugs, and sometimes we’ll be driving for a long time (and sometimes we’ll take the ICE Focus instead).

My Bosch/SPX EVSE is already installed with a plug so its really easy to remove and take with us (along with an adapter to use it at campgrounds plugged into the 50A 6-50 plug).

This combo is one of the reasons I created the “how far can I go” maps: I can map out how far from a given campground I can drive the FFE and still return if there are no charge stations in town.

How far can I go?

Much like estimating power consumption along a route many people would also like to answer the question “Where can I go?”. Typically you would place a pushpin on your map and draw a circle around the pin the radius of your distance you want to go. This circle method has a drawback though: The distance is a straight line distance and does not reflect the actual driving distance from a given point. As an EV driver with limited range the actual driving distance is more important to you. To that end I’ve created this driving circle page.
Circle image
Enter in an address, or city name and a radius in miles and press “Calc Circle”. A transparent red circle will be drawn on the map. This circle is the linear distance from the given point. After about 20-30 seconds the green polygon will be drawn (I’ve had to put in some delays to prevent errors returned by Google). The polygon represents the area that can be driven to the given radius miles.

The polygon is calculated by dividing the circle up into 36 points. For each point the page requests directions from Google from the center to the point on the circle. It then walks the returned route stopping at the point when it hits the radius distance given. These end points are then used as vertices in the polygon.

Along a similar theme: Here is a version of the above page for drive times. On this page you enter in a location as above and the number of minutes you wish to drive (granted this page is more useful for going long distances). Here the red circle represents how far you would drive at 70 mph if you could drive in a straight line from the center point. The polygon is how far you’d go heading in that direction for the specified number of minutes. Again the circle is divided up into 36 points and Google is asked for directions from the center to each point. The vertices of the polygon are determined by following each route and calculating where you get at X minutes.

Extending your range?

I’ve seen a few people post ideas in the FFE forums about how to pull a generator behind your EV to give you that extra bit of range. It is an interesting thought…enough of one that someone actually designed a thing: I give you the EP Tender (here is their main website).
EP Tender
I don’t think this guy will work for my beloved Focus Electric because he taps into the vehicle between the charger and the battery (since most EVs don’t allow charging while driving). It basically turns your EV into a PHEV with a cute little trailer. Even more fascinating is the simple solution to backing up (watch the video).


About that climate hit….

So what do you think this post will be about?? Winter weather driving?? LOL Well sort of.

Ever notice that as soon as you turn on the heater the guess-o-meter’s value suddenly drops by 10 – 20 miles and your status goes <0? (If your status read 0 beforehand the value of the status will be the amount that your range dropped.) Have you wondered where the guess-o-meter gets the value that it will use to drop the range with? Keep reading…

During the week I use the FFE as my commuter car for my 30 mile round trip into work and back. On the weekends we typically use it for short trips to the store, or to my son’s activities, etc.–just driving short distances around town. This means that during the week I have to make sure the FFE can go the 30 miles so I can get home, but on the weekends it really doesn’t matter because it typically only drives 10 or 15 miles a day–if that. In warmer weather the 30 miles is no problem (usually only using about 20% of the battery for those 30 miles). This winter with the really cold temps, though, I’ve had to use all the tricks to (most of them spelled out in a blog entry or two here) ensure I have the 30 miles. Where are you going with this you’re thinking to yourself?

Here is the thing: During the week I’ll attempt to use as little power from the HVAC as possible (defrost on LO and fan on low) but on the weekend since it doesn’t matter we’ll use max defrost, set the temp high, etc. What I’ve found out is that the guess-o-meter also guesses at the power consumption for the HVAC! On Monday morning when I get in the car and hit the HVAC button to turn it on my range will drop by 20 miles (because over the weekend we’ve used max power on the HVAC) but on Saturday morning when I hit the HVAC button to turn it on my range will  only drop by 1 or 2 miles–if that (because during the week the HVAC has used very little power). Thus the guess-o-meter is also making an educated guess about how much power the HVAC will use based on your prior usage of it.

That’s actually pretty cool: instead of just using some fixed guess that may be too high at one point or too low it is actually using measured historical usage.


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).