• Oct 29th 2008 at 7:56AM
  • 23
You drive like crap and you know it. Stop the burnouts, late braking and 100-mph freeway sprint and you just might make a tank of gas last longer than a day. Sure, automakers like Ford could spend a few million on lectures to teach car buyers a thing or two about better driving. But if you didn't get it in Driver's Ed, you're not likely to get it now. Instead, Ford's new Smart Gauge will teach better driving through rewards. Do a better job controlling your right foot, and Smart Guage adds a green leaf to a display next to the speedo. The better you do, the more leaves you get. Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of hybrid-vehicle programs, tells The Wall Street Journal, "You don't have to count the leaves. But if you're in a forest of leaves, you'll know you're doing well."

You can also grow your Virtual Dash Tree™ for a chance to defeat the boss monster on the final level and, if successful, Smart Gauge will reward drivers with Fordelicious Fruit™, which you can trade for Microsoft Points that can be used to pay for your Sync subscription. No. Not really.

Ford is expected to announce the Smart Gauge today and it will initially be available on the hybrid versions of 2010 Mercury Milans and Ford Fusions. There is a video from Ford after the jump.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I know the last part is a joke, but I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as a SYNC subscription. Probably confusing it with OnStar.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think some type of display outside of the car to let other drivers know how efficiently you are driving would be more of an incentive for ppl to drive effciently cuz everythign ends up being a competition, if not speed then efficency..
      • 6 Years Ago
      And in the fall when the leaves fall from the dash we can hire unemployed GM, Ford, and Chrysler sales persons to rake them up and haul them to the dump.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "You drive like crap and you know it. Stop the burnouts, late braking and 100-mph freeway sprint and you just might make a tank of gas last longer than a day."

      It's like they've been watching me drive. :D
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think I am going to start putting those stickers on the fenders of My car, with a cross-hair strike-through.

      Like a fighter jet pilot that logs how many kills with bogey strike logos on the fuselage of his jet.

      Every time I relieve traffic congestion by passing a rolling-road-block slow-poke prius, or leave a ricer-racer safely behind me, or cruise past a ditched SUV with my permanent AWD/snow-tire'd/low center of gravity sedan... Each will get a bogey strike on my fender.

      I don't think I have enough room on my fenders. :D
        • 6 Years Ago
        Speaking of bogey logos I would like bicycle strike logos for each time I have downed a bicycle rider - just kidding!!! No way I want to hit anyone on a bike, but it would be more than fun to tweak their eco-weini noses while they run red lights and generally disregard traffic signs as they self righteously ride around.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good idea, but not a new one. Prius and Camry hybrid drivers are used to this (gauges glow a brighter, prettier blue when you're doing well and it will congratulate you after a drive if you've reached a certain threshold). I think Honda has a similar setup.

      Ultimately, I find the best (and far better than this) teacher in this regard though to be the real-time MPG gauge that BMWs have had forever and many hybrids have too. When I push down the gas pedal and see that needle drop, it's an instant reminder and you start to try and accelerate without having as much of an impact on that needle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Vance Some of these vehicles you mentioned have this kind of a gage. My Mustang has a simple bar graph that shows, in real time, what kind of mileage you are getting, as well as average fuel economy, and distance to empty.

        That being said, I don't look at the gage when 'dropping the hammer.'
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree 100% about the instantaneous fuel consumption meter. There's already been a comment made about BMW owners ignoring it but I'm one of them who doesn't. I'm getting the exact same fuel economy in my 2001 740i as my colleagues are in their 4-banger Mazda6s and Nissan Altima SE-Rs (13l/100km with 70% city). None of us floor the car during our commutes either. I always find myself being careful with how hard I accelerate because when that needle jumps to 30l/100km during acceleration it's enough to make me gag every time. Also it's much easier finding a highway cruising speed that's more fuel efficient than just going the speed limit or less. I'd welcome the leaf-thingy or any other type of explicit display for fuel economy. It really does work if you want to take advantage of it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        yea i was checking out my uncles 540i he just purchased, and it has a small gauge that shows instantaneous mpg, pretty funny to watch when flooring it haha.

        My car has a similar feature on the "driver information display" but its not as exciting as watching a physical gauge, since its just digital numbers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Escape Hybrid has always had a gauge that tells you how efficiently you are driving. I imagine the Fusion and Milan will have the same thing. The leaf graphics will probably just be in addition to it.

        Amazing to think these cars should be out in 3 months. Where is the hype from Ford? GM is constantly talking about their Volt and the Malibu almost hybrid. Ford's hybrid tech is right up there with Toyota and they are finally putting it in a car. I am surprised at how little we are hearing about it so close to launch.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think so, too.

        I have a Hyundai Sonata that has a mileage calculations for the tank, and while not real time, I find myself always taking a glance at it after every drive to see if I've improved the overall mileage or gotten worse. It's really helped motivate me to be a better driver. At first thought, I would think the leaf system would be very annoying, though I could be wrong and wind up liking it.

        Also, I can't help but point out that it seems as though Hybrid owners would be the ones already doing this. Why not put this system in Expeditions, Mustangs and F-150's where the drivers really need the education?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah, that is a pretty old news. Pontiac had a economy gauge in the mid-sixties...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think a number gauge would be easier to see.
      I don't think counting how many leaves you have is easier than having a number display or having maybe colors (following the regular scale) depicting how green you are driving.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Earn enough of them and you earn an extra life.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Am I crazy to think (not necessarily because of the leaves Ford is putting on the dash) that we could have real-time online gaming behind the wheel where people are hypermiling against each other? Joe the Plumber (did I just type that?) in Ohio would be hypermiling against Joe the Elitist in NY. Of course driving conditions are everything in this but even a daily download and analysis/comparison of the numbers would be interesting for some. Of course I'm sure I would despise driving behind these people and never mind the dangers in it.

      The MPG readout on my '05 Legacy GT MT is never high enough for me...truly depressing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The first car I had that had a fuel economy display was a 1986 Ford Taurus. I took it as a challenge to get thirty MPG driving across town with the trip setting and seeing what I could do instantaneously really showed the effects of slight variations in speed, acceleration up hills vs. speeding up slightly before the hill and easing off going up, etc.

      Ever since, I typically get better fuel economy than others driving the same vehicle.

      Still do the same with my Aurora (3.5 Shortstar) - long term average 25.6 mpg with the infamous 'Brighton to Novi commute' every day - those of us in SE Michigan know what that commute is like!

      Anything that helps people get this 'fuel economy challenge' mindset is OK with me!
      • 6 Years Ago
      A car with such a smart gauge is just asking for a keying.
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