Update: Ford provided details about whether navigation information is necessary for the Intelligent Range. The post has been updated with that information.
Ford hopes to give electric car owners extra peace of mind by releasing a clever feature named Intelligent Range that monitors electricity consumption in real time. The 2021 Mustang Mach-E will inaugurate it.
Engineers started with the premise that range estimates are just that. How far you can drive on a full battery (or a full tank of gasoline) depends on a wide variety of factors, and the number you see in the instrument cluster is rarely 100% accurate. If you're running low on gas, you can stop somewhere and fill up in a few minutes. If you're running out of juice, finding a charging station may be more difficult, and you'll to wait longer for a charge.
Intelligent Range analyzes electricity consumption and factors in the driver's behavior, the current and future weather conditions, plus data from other Mach-E drivers who choose to share it. It then predicts how much electricity the powertrain will use to complete a trip. Range goes down if the driver floors the accelerator pedal between every red light, for example, and Ford noted warmer and colder weather has an effect on how far an electric car can drive on one charge. If the number changes, users will see a notification in the instrument cluster.
Ford told Autoblog this technology works regardless of whether a destination is entered into the navigation system. Intelligent Range learns the driver's habits on a daily basis, even if navigation isn't being used. It notably detects if the car is regularly driven briskly and if the A/C is always on full blast, among other parameters. It also doesn't require navigation information to factor the weather and crowd-sourced data into its real-world range estimate.
"Changes in driver behavior and the environment can impact range, which is the reason other electric vehicles often experience significant range adjustments. Ford is tapping the power of the cloud to make estimates even more accurate, reduce the need for surprise charging stops, and help reduce customers' range anxiety," explained Mark Poll, the manager of Ford's electric vehicle charging user experience, in a statement.
Motorists who nonetheless run out of electricity will be able to count on a free roadside assistance program Ford is creating specifically for the Mach-E. They'll be towed to their home, to the nearest public charger, or to an EV-certified Ford dealership within 35 miles of where their car stopped, free of charge. If there's nothing in a 35-mile radius, which isn't inconceivable in America, their car will be taken to the closest location available.
Ford will improve its Intelligent Range feature via its new over-the-air updating system, which it will also use to beam early Mach-E customers the hands-free Active Drive Assist technology. It explained future updates will review information stored in the cloud to analyze real-time traffic conditions, road slope, the elevation changes on a given route, and the temperature at the driver's final destination and adjust range accordingly if needed.