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TheStreet Open House

Ford Hybrid's EV+ Feature Learns And Automatically Adjusts Powertrain To Deliver More Electric-Only Driving

Stocks in this article: F

"We already have a GPS unit in every Ford with SYNC, so really it was just a matter of tapping into that the right way," said Layden. "This is one of the first examples of how we're looking to make the car smarter, by leveraging on board data to provide features and services that add value to the driving experience."

EV+ joins a growing list of roughly 500 hybrid-specific patents Ford has accumulated in the last 20 years. Patents include everything from the leaves on the cluster screen of SmartGauge and the hands-free liftgate of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi to an available EV-only mode button that allows customers to access electric power on-demand.

Enhancing performance

EV+ was developed by two Ford employees: Ken Frederick, HEV powertrain calibration engineer, and Matt Smith, product design engineer. They are the authors of the patent application that was recently published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

When engaged, EV+ uses onboard GPS equipment and predictive software algorithms written by Frederick and Smith to learn the latitude and longitude of a vehicle and identify locations that are visited on a frequent basis, such as home and work. The feature can be disabled and the data erased at the push of a button.

When the feature identifies frequent destinations, the way electric power is used changes. Specifically, when within a radius of 1/8 mile, or 200 meters, of a frequent stop, the vehicle has increased capability to stay in electric-only mode, the internal combustion engine stays off, and an "EV+" light appears on the dashboard.

"One of Ford's biggest strengths is the quality of our controls and calibration. We do all of that work in-house and it shows when we deliver a feature like EV+," said Rob Iorio, Ford Electrified Propulsion Systems Manager. "No other automaker seamlessly integrates global positioning and propulsion system control as we have with EV+."

Big data, big challenge

Originally, the plan was to develop a way for vehicles to collect and digest vast amounts of information to predict and adjust to different driving demands.   

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