On the eve of Ford's big unveiling at CES, we got an exclusive hands-on with MyFord Mobile, a smartphone app that keeps track of all the information an electric vehicle (EV) owner would want. Why does Ford need an app for an EV? For the Focus Electric, of course.
The app – which will launch on Android and Blackberry, with iPhone support coming later on – connects with an EV to provide the owner with a range of charging, location, telematics and driver-oriented information. If you're an iPhone owner, you can also access all the features through any HTML5 browser (Safari) or from your desktop PC. And before you ask, the demo unit in the photos was running Windows Phone 7, but it isn't supported just yet.
When you load up the app, you're greeted with the vehicle's state of charge, how long it will take to charge to different levels and the exact time the battery will be topped off. There's also a page that lists how much CO2 you've saved, the amount of cash you've stolen out of Big Oil's pockets and a rating of your driving style – a sliding scale that moves between 'zippy' and 'zen.'
Ford partnered up with MapQuest to provide location data, including where the nearest charging stations are located, along with color coding (green, yellow and red) that indicates your charge status when you arrive. The mapping software also can calculate the distance to and from multiple destinations – round trip – and determines if you'll have enough juice to get back home. It even takes into account the outside temperature and how it affects the battery's discharge.
Finally, there's the My Car section that covers everything from location, vehicle information (battery health, tire pressure, etc.), charge settings and how your personal driving style is affecting the amount of range you're getting. Ford has also partnered with Microsoft to provide smart charging data, allowing you to only juice up your EV during non-peak use hours. There's more info in the press release after the jump and in the photo galleries below.
ENGAGED AND IN CONTROL OF ELECTRIC CAR EXPERIENCE
• Ford has developed the all-new MyFord Mobile app for North America, allowing Focus Electric drivers to remain engaged and in control even when away from the vehicle. It's part of a strategic approach to make Ford electric car ownership simpler and easier
• MyFord Mobile works via a smartphone app or secure website to give owners the ability to monitor and control selected vehicle functions anywhere they and the car have connectivity
• The new app dedicated to Ford plug-in vehicle owners helps remotely monitor and control vehicle charge levels, plan single- or multiple-stop journeys, locate charging stations, pre-heat or cool the car and perform other convenient electric vehicle-specific tasks
• A value charging feature, powered by Microsoft, allows Ford customers to reduce their electricity costs by taking advantage of off-peak or reduced rates from their utility without a complicated set-up process
• MyFord Mobile will help Focus Electric owners make smart-trip planning decisions with features powered by MapQuest®, which will maintain the largest database of charging stations
DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 7, 2011 – Electric vehicle owners can plug in and walk away from their vehicles while staying connected, thanks to the new MyFord Mobile app being introduced exclusively with the all-new Ford Focus Electric.
The unique new MyFord Mobile technology provides Focus Electric owners in North America with a powerful tool to stay connected, monitor and control their vehicle. Via a smartphone or a secure website, MyFord Mobile allows Focus Electric owners to plan trips, monitor the vehicle's state of charge, receive various alerts for vehicle charging, as well as provides several other features designed to simplify the electric vehicle ownership experience.
It is part of the innovative Ford approach to understand that electric vehicle customers want to be informed and in control of their vehicle at all times, especially while away from the vehicle.
The technology builds on Ford's connectivity leadership and is part of a complete suite of tools designed to give Focus Electric vehicle owners peace of mind through constant connectivity, helping strengthen the unique EV ownership experience.
"We're putting battery charge and vehicle range information, along with an interactive, data-driven trip planning app right at customers' fingertips," said Ed Pleet, Ford Connected Services manager. "That's going to get drivers involved and excited about the electric car ownership experience."
MyFord Mobile uses an on-board wireless module integrated into Focus Electric that allows the car to communicate off-board via standard cellular technology. Owners can use any connected mobile phone with a data plan or computer with Internet access when not operating a vehicle to:
• Find current and projected state of charge information including estimated range and the amount of charge time necessary for additional distances
• Program vehicle charging with utility input, allowing the car to start charging immediately or when electricity prices are lowest with the value charging feature, powered by Microsoft
• Using features powered by MapQuest®:
o Locate charging stations and get the destination sent to the vehicle
o Know if the vehicle can reach a specific charge station from its current location with the current charge level
o Create a journey with multiple stops, and determine the likelihood that the car has adequate charge for the full journey
o Find the car by creating a route from a mobile phone to the vehicle
• Receive alerts if the vehicle isn't charging when it's scheduled to, or if charging stops unexpectedly due to a power outage, plug removal or other event
• Receive alerts during recharge when the vehicle has reached a particular preset charge level or has the ability to reach a particular destination
• Engage remote vehicle preconditioning, using grid power to heat or cool the battery and vehicle interior
• Remotely lock/unlock doors
• Use the built-in GPS system to locate the car
• Download performance and system data
• Receive various achievements for driving and ownership milestones that can then be posted to your Facebook or Twitter account
• Fun ways of understanding your driver behavior, with ratings from 'Zen' to 'zippy'
• Receive information personalized to the driver, depending on which key the driver used
How the system works
At launch, the MyFord Mobile app will be available for most major smartphones, including BlackBerry, Android and iPhone, along with a mobile web application for compatibility with any phone supporting HTML-5 browser-based access, or features phones with WAP 2.0-supported browsers. The feature also is accessible via a secure Ford website.
Owners will use the smartphone to communicate with a cloud-based secure server, which stores information provided by an embedded wireless module in Focus Electric. Using a cloud-based architecture ensures users will have up-to-the-minute access to information anywhere both they and the vehicle have connectivity.
Key component in the electric vehicle ownership experience
MyFord Mobile is a primary feature in the suite of tools Focus Electric owners in North America will have to help them manage the recharge process and involve them engagingly.
They will engage with a version of MyFord Touch™, the Ford driver connect technology, which is being introduced across the all-new Focus family, designed exclusively for electric vehicle owners. The MyFord Touch system in Focus Electric adds an impressive layer of electric vehicle operation information on top of the broader MyFord Touch functionality.
The unique implementation of MyFord Touch offers configurability of vehicle information including battery state of charge, range budget, distance to charge point and expected range surplus. The cluster's MyView option allows drivers to access even more vehicle data such as the electrical demands of vehicle accessories including air conditioning, which can impact driving range.
Working with the charge station manufacturers and MapQuest, Ford will provide Focus Electric owners with the most current, comprehensive charging station information in the country. That information is accessed via MyFord Mobile and can then be communicated to Focus Electric using SYNC's Traffic, Directions and Information Service (TDI) when the vehicle is stationary.
Once SYNC TDI receives a charging station location from MyFord Mobile, turn-by-turn guidance is provided by the in-car map-based Navigation System. In the vehicle, drivers also can get charging station information directly through SYNC TDI simply by connecting to SYNC Services using voice commands.
Additional elements of the ownership experience include a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft that lowers cost of ownership by allowing customers to recharge their vehicles at off-peak or at other reduced rates from their utility through an uncomplicated "set it and forget it" approach.
"Ford recognizes the electric vehicle ownership experience is going to be new for just about everyone," said Pleet. "Our goal is not just to provide the most practical, enjoyable electric car on the market, but also to give drivers the information, applications and resources they need to feel confident about choosing fun, environmentally conscious transportation."