Butterflies, solar panels and windmills – which would you like to see on your dash display? Ford knows the best way to ensure customers will be happy with the overall driving experience is to get them involved with the R&D of a new vehicle! Ford invited potential customers to participate in a special driving simulator to enable engineers to take their feedback to finalize the in-dash display of the Focus Electric.
Via an 11-mile circuit through various terrain – such as city streets, hills and country land – the participants saw the same information that would appear in an actual Focus Electric, including two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking the speedometer in the center. There, information about state of charge, distance to charge point, the corresponding budget and expected range surplus appear. How the gauge concepts and design are comprehended by participants helps to ensure the unique extension of the MyFord Touch® interactive display is easy to use and will meet owner information needs. MyFord Touch on the Focus Electric offers drivers features and info about range, destinations and charge points.
The team also brought in members of the Michigan Electric Auto Association, a group of electric vehicle enthusiasts, to validate the driver information. The concepts were well received by the group, who considered the information thoughtful, particularly for people who are not familiar with the electric vehicle experience.
Specifically, butterflies, which are used to graphically represent the additional range beyond one’s charge destination, were considered to be an appropriate emotive theme. One theme that was being pursued – a circuit board – was poorly received. It was seen as cold, unattractive and not exciting, so it was dropped. And, “not everyone thinks windmills and solar panels are desirable,” said Paul Aldighieri, Ford Global HMI Engineer. The team incorporated the feedback and received high acceptance levels for the new graphics.
Another example is that 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 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. Additionally, engineers received input on alternatives for the terminology used to represent what eventually became the charge point, budget and surplus screens.
For those who want more in-depth information, the cluster’s MyView feature offers greater personalization choices. Using five-way buttons on the steering wheel, Focus Electric owners can configure their own custom information screen in the left display. MyView gives owners the ability to choose trip budgets and range views and decide whether or not to display associated text with each screen.
The system also helps drivers optimize their use of the vehicle’s regenerative brakes to recapture kinetic energy and send it back to the battery. Brake Coach gives drivers feedback on their braking performance – and the effect it has on their range – once the car comes to a complete stop after a braking event.
The right-hand display screen in Focus Electric also uses blue butterflies to graphically represent the additional range beyond one’s charge point destination – the more there are, the greater the range. To reinforce the message, at the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and comparative gasoline saved by driving electric.