DEARBORN, MI - The "Living Electric" display at the 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) wasn't just an opportunity for visitors to ride in an electric vehicle -- it also was a time for Ford engineers to learn more about the all-new Focus Electric.
"This was a win-win situation. While customers were able to learn about how an electric vehicle works and rides, we could pull up data and find out more about the Focus Electric they were in at the very same time," said Shawn Lightner, Ford global electrified products program manager. "We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to discover even more about how the cars perform using the data acquisition technology employed on other development vehicles."
An onboard data acquisition system was connected to the car computer, where critical information of what was happening while the vehicle was running or charging could be transmitted. Ford engineers were then able to go online and pull up data via a Web site to monitor information about the vehicle, while customers were riding in it.
"The Ford engineering team was able to capture and gain insight on how the batteries were performing from charging to depletion, the range the Focus Electric was getting per charge, as well as data on how the car was doing overall," explained Lightner.
At the Living Electric display on the Ford stand, more than 10,000 NAIAS visitors took a ride in a Focus Electric on an elevated track 20 feet high, 208 feet in length and 71 feet in diameter. Hands-on technology displays, digital tutorials and conversations with experts also helped people learn how different types of electrified vehicles will fit various lifestyles.
The all-new Focus Electric -- Ford's first-ever all-electric passenger car -- is a zero-emissions, gasoline-free version of the company's popular Focus model. Focus Electric is designed to offer enough range to cover the majority of daily driving habits of Americans. A full recharge is expected to take three to four hours at home with the 240-volt charge station.
Focus Electric introduces new features and technologies, including a unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system designed especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.
Electrification is an important piece of Ford's overall product sustainability strategy. Ford's strategy includes the launch of five new electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013. In addition to Focus Electric, Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will introduce C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012.
Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine