By Kevin C. Tofel, GigaOM Ford today announced a new mobile app to help drivers remotely manage energy consumption in the automaker’s upcoming Ford Focus Electric vehicle. The software, called MyFord Mobile, allows users to remotely monitor the car’s battery level and to plan trips with recharging stations in mind. My Ford Mobile will launch on BlackBerry, Android and iOS, or can be accessed by any handset with either a browser supporting HTML5 or WAP 2.0 standards. Much of the handset application revolves around intelligent power management for Ford Focus Electric car owners. Aside from the basic battery monitoring, My Ford Mobile can be used to schedule vehicle charging, such as during off-peak times for cheaper electric rates. Since the app runs on a mobile device, users don’t need to be near the car to begin the charging process and if the car isn’t charging when it should be, the app can show an alert. Of course, for a handset to receive data from a car that isn’t necessarily nearby, some connectivity must be in the vehicle. Ford says the Focus Electric will have an integrated cellular connection, which sends vehicle information to Ford’s servers. In turn, that information is fed to handsets via the new MyFord Mobile app, providing vehicle data directly to a remote user. The connection works in the opposite direction too: from the handset, drivers can remotely find their vehicle via GPS or unlock the doors. Ford is partnering with MapQuest on the new app, to help drivers plan routes that benefit an electric vehicle. Users can locate charging stations with the handset app and have their locations sent to the vehicle for easy navigation. And much like the “miles to empty” feature of a gas-powered car, the app can determine if a specific charging station can be reached based on location and current charge level.
The new app and cloud service that Ford is offering for its all-electric car should take away any potential fear a consumer might have with a battery-powered car and the small-but-growing battery charging ecosystem such vehicles need. By connecting the car to a phone via software, there’s less chance of running down the car’s battery unexpectedly, even on a long trip. And it’s another example of smarter phones helping to make life a simple drive in the park.For more research on electric cars check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):
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