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Ford addresses "Range Anxiety" for upcoming Focus Electric
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Ford addresses “Range Anxiety” for upcoming Focus Electric

Developing an electric car presents many design challenges for car manufacturers. Not the least of which is how to convey new and sometimes complex information to the driver. Range anxiety..do I have enough juice to go where I want to go and get back home again, how do I squeeze the most range out of a charge, where is the nearest charging station?

Ford has identified this range anxiety as one of the major challenges facing consumer acceptance of electric automobiles. So the company has developed a sophisticated Human Machine Interface (HMI) simulator to ensure the My Ford Touch interactive is easy use and meets the needs of customers.

Since last year,nearly 30 drivers have driven the simulator through an 18 kilometre circuit that covers a variety of terrain that a typical drive would include.

Engineers evaluated how well participants comprehended the gauge concepts and validated the gauge design. Feedback showed the core behaviours of the system were well understood, and the engineering team received feedback on how to improve the interface.

For example, the original Brake Coach showed the absolute amount of energy that was captured and sent back to the battery, as well as the energy lost due to friction.
Participants provided feedback that this was too complex to understand and the
indication of the energy lost to friction was not well understood.

Engineers simplified the program to show just the relative proportion of energy captured out of what was available to be captured. This gave the drivers a score that was easier to
understand and was shown to be more motivational.

The objective of this exercise was to make  experience of driving an electric vehicle as intuitive as the current experience in gasoline powered cars. Many of the findings will turn up in the 2012 Ford Focus Electric

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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