Up-shift indicator lights that tell drivers when to change gears are not a new concept. They date back to at least the mid-1980s when they were first installed in cars in the early days of CAFE. Those early iterations were pretty straightforward and mainly just flashed an up arrow when engine revs exceeded a pre-set threshold. Recently, up-shift indicators have made a comeback and now they can be controlled more intelligently. Modern engine management systems can detect vehicle load, road grade and driving style to determine the best time to actually shift. These are basically simple versions of the eco-driving coaching systems that will increasingly appear on new cars like the Ford Fusion hybrid and Honda Insight.
Several of Ford's new ecoNetic models - including the Fiesta, Focus, and Mondeo - are equipped with these indicators. Diesel-powered Transit and Transit connect vans also get them.
FORD GEAR-SHIFT INDICATOR HELPS FUEL ECONOMY
BRENTWOOD, Essex, December 16, 2008 – The latest Ford ECOnetic and Transit models light the way towards improved fuel economy via a 'smart' gear change alert.
The gear-shift indicator in the instrument cluster of Ford Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo ECOnetic and Transit diesels signals to drivers when to change gear at the optimum moment. Moving more swiftly through the gears reduces fuel consumption by avoiding unnecessarily high engine speed.
The system not only helps drivers cut fuel costs, but also enables them to reduce CO2 emissions and to decrease wear on engine and transmission components.
Tim Winstanley, Ford diesel powertrain manager, said: "Many drivers could improve their fuel economy significantly by changing gear earlier. The indicator provides drivers with a helpful aid to using less fuel and encourages a smoother driving style."
A shift indicator is fitted as standard to the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic and Mondeo ECOnetic models, and will be added to the Ford Focus ECOnetic in early 2009. The feature is also on all Ford Transit and Transit Connect TDCi diesels.
The gear-shift indicator senses the way the vehicle is being driven, taking account of road gradient, vehicle load and individual driving style and identifies the most suitable gear change point.
The system continuously monitors data from the vehicle including engine speed, road speed, gear selected and throttle position to calculate optimum gear changes.
Using the gear-shift indicator helps drivers to maximise the fuel economy of Ford models, which are already among the most fuel efficient in their class. The Ford Fiesta ECOnetic achieves a combined fuel consumption of 76.3 mpg* along with an ultra-low 98g/km CO2, making it exempt from UK road tax.
This year Ford ran a nation-wide Smart Driving Challenge using Focus ECOnetics to promote techniques including early gear changes. Fuel saved after deploying eco driving tips equated to £325 per year for the average motorist, with drivers improving their miles per gallon by over a third.
*Note: Fuel economy figures quoted are based on the European Fuel Economy Directive EU 80/1268/EEC and will differ from fuel economy drive cycle results in other regions of the world