Archive for March, 2011


Plug-in vehicles will top 1 million by 2015

March 31, 2011

Boulder, Colorado – Global sales of plug-in electric vehicles will top one million units for the first time in 2015, according to a forecast by Pike Research, although they will remain low in relation to the total light-duty vehicle market.

“Electric vehicles have received a great deal of attention in recent months due to the launches of several high-profile vehicles,” said senior analyst Dave Hurst. “The (plug-in vehicle) market is already becoming a highly competitive market and over the next few years, the marketing initiatives of multiple manufacturers will help build consumer familiarity with, and drive adoption of, plug-in vehicles as a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.”

Plug-in vehicles include battery electrics (BEVs), which run solely on electricity, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), which run on both electricity and gasoline. Pike Research forecasts that BEVs will take a slight lead worldwide, with 56 per cent of total plug-in sales in 2015. They will be especially popular in the Asia Pacific region, which will represent more than half the total global market, as well as in Europe.

In Canada and the United States, the firm anticipates that PHEVs will be the clear choice due to their extended driving range and gasoline engine fallback option. In those markets, PHEVs will represent 71 per cent of all electric vehicle sales in 2015.




Ford Teams With AT&T to Wirelessly Connect New Ford Focus Electric

March 30, 2011

Ford Electric Vehicle Owners Will Have Ability to Remotely Monitor, Engage and Control Vehicle Settings via Information Collected over the AT&T Wireless Network

  • Ford Motor Company to use AT&T wireless network to connect new Ford Focus Electric
  • Wireless connection enables vehicle owners to control vehicle settings when away from the car – all part of a strategic approach to make Ford electric car ownership simple, easy and engaging
  • MyFord Mobile, Ford’s exclusive app powered by MapQuest data, will be accessible through a smartphone or secure website
  • Embedded wireless connection and dedicated app includes the ability for the owner to monitor and control vehicle charge settings, plan single- or multiple-stop journeys, locate charging stations, pre-heat or cool the car

DALLAS and DEARBORN, Mich., March 23, 2011 — Ford Motor Company and AT&T* today announced an agreement to wirelessly connect the Ford Focus Electric, Ford’s first all-electric passenger car. Announced in January at the 2011 International CES, the new Focus Electric enters production at the Michigan Assembly Plant in late 2011.

Through the new MyFord Mobile smartphone app, using the embedded AT&T wireless connection, Ford Focus Electric vehicle owners will have the ability to send and receive data about their car providing command and control of vehicle settings while away from it.

“Ford has been at the forefront of developing market leading telematics and infotainment services for its vehicles and we’re thrilled to be a part of this exciting and significant next step with the upcoming Focus Electric,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices, resale and partnerships, AT&T. “Connecting consumers directly to their electric vehicles in this new and innovative way is going to drive innovative and exciting levels of interaction.”

MyFord Mobile technology provides Focus Electric owners in North America with a powerful tool to stay connected, monitor and control their vehicle. Through a smartphone app or secure website, MyFord Mobile invites Focus Electric owners to plan trips, monitor the vehicle’s state of charge, receive various alerts for vehicle charging, as well as provides several other features designed to simplify the electric vehicle ownership experience.

“With a wireless connection, we’re putting battery charge and vehicle range information, along with an interactive, data-driven trip planning app, directly at the fingertips of our customers,” said Ed Pleet, product and business manager for Ford Connected Services. “This technology will keep drivers connected to vital information, enhancing their electric car ownership experience. The AT&T network is an important part of this equation and we’re pleased to have AT&T on board.”

MyFord Mobile will connect through the AT&T network, allowing the car to communicate off-board through standard wireless technology. From an internet connected mobile phone or computer, owners can:

  • Find current and projected state of charge information including estimated range and the amount of charge time necessary for additional distances
  • Program vehicle charging with utility input, allowing the car to start charging immediately or when electricity prices are lowest with the value charging feature, powered by Microsoft
  • Features powered by MapQuest available on the MyFord smartphone app:
    • Locate charging stations and get the destination sent to the vehicle
    • Know if the vehicle can reach a specific charge station from its current location with the current charge level
    • Create a journey with multiple stops, and determine the likelihood that the car has adequate charge for the full journey
    • Find the car by creating a route from a mobile phone to the vehicle
  • Receive alerts if the vehicle isn’t charging when it’s scheduled to, or if charging stops unexpectedly due to a power outage, plug removal or other event
  • Receive alerts during recharge when the vehicle has reached a particular preset charge level or has the ability to reach a particular destination
  • Engage remote vehicle preconditioning, using grid power to heat or cool the vehicle interior
  • Remotely lock/unlock doors
  • Use the built-in GPS system to locate the car
  • Download performance and system data
  • Fun ways of understanding your driver behavior, with ratings from ‘Zen’ to ‘Zippy’
  • Receive information personalized to the driver, depending on which key the driver used

How the system works
At launch, the MyFord Mobile app will be available for most major smartphones, along with a mobile web application for compatibility with any phone supporting HTML-5 browser-based access, or feature phones with WAP 2.0-supported browsers. The feature also is accessible via a secure Ford website.
Owners will use the smartphone to communicate with a cloud-based highly secure server, which stores information provided by the embedded wireless module in Focus Electric. Using a cloud-based architecture ensures users will have up-to-the-minute access to information through the AT&T wireless network.




Test Drive: 2011 Ford Edge Sport

March 29, 2011

The 2011 Ford Edge is available with a bunch of high-tech comfort and convenience features, including SYNC, MyFord Touch, and touch-sensitive centre stack controls, all designed to reduce driver distraction without reducing the vehicle’s functionality. What does it say about me, then, that my favourite part of the redesigned interior is the big, analog speedometer that anchors the instrument cluster?

MyFord Touch is Ford’s take on control interface systems that have become common in luxury vehicles: think BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI or Mercedes-Benz’ COMAND set-ups. Here, all of the car’s major systems – climate control, audio, communications and navigation – can be controlled through the dashboard touch screen, and basic functions for each can be managed through steering wheel buttons and a digital display in the instrument cluster. Between MyFordTouch and SYNC, you can control just about any function in the car without taking your hands off the wheel, and there’s something to be said for that.

I’d suggest there’s also something to be said for keeping car interiors really simple, which is the best way to avoid distraction and keep a driver’s attention focused on the road ahead and potential risks all around. A good example here is the controls for the heated front seats, which are accessible only through the touch-screen, requiring two steps (accessing the climate control display, if it’s not already prioritized, and then turning the seat warmers on or off). I admit I’m a bit of a traditionalist, but I’d prefer buttons or switches on the centre stack or console.

There are audio and climate controls on the centre stack, below the screen, on an admittedly slick-looking touch-sensitive panel (lower-spec models get a slightly different-looking stack with controls that work similarly). With bare hands, these controls generally work well, but there were a couple of times I needed a second or third touch to get the car to do what I wanted it to. Gloved or mittened hands present a challenge, and require firmer pressure to get the message through. Ford’s prioritizing of MyFordTouch shows in the arrangement of the centre stack controls: the individual buttons are hard to identify at a quick glance, and the flat panel means that finding a button by feel alone is impossible.


(from Chris Chase,


Ford B-MAX Concept Vehicle Debuted

March 25, 2011

Geneva is the second largest city in Switzerland, and it’s known for fine watches, as well as being home to the headquarters of several European and global human-interest groups. But this week, it is the home of one of the largest auto shows in Europe. That is where Ford introduced the B-MAX concept vehicle, providing an early preview of exciting innovations in the European small-car market.

The B-MAX concept showcases a unique new body design which eliminates the traditional B pillar between the front and rear doors, and features twin rear sliding doors.  This innovative format – which has already been engineered for production – promises best-in-class access to the cabin, together with unmatched convenience and flexibility.

The innovation continues inside the cabin, where the interior offers exceptional space and versatility for such a compact vehicle.  The use of high quality materials highlights the vision that small, practical cars can also be comfortable and well-equipped.

The B-MAX concept combines the integrated B-pillar door format with a flexible and easy-to-use seating system, resulting in an interior which offers unmatched practicality and versatility.

Having folded the 60/40 split rear seats and the front passenger seat to create an extensive flat load floor, the side access is particularly convenient to load bulky items such as flat-pack furniture or even a bicycle.

With the front passenger seat folded, the interior is capable of holding exceptionally long loads.

The B-MAX concept is just 4.3 inches longer than the Fiesta five-door, and is approximately one foot shorter than the new C-MAX. With this highly compact footprint, the B-MAX concept is ideally placed to meet the fast-growing demand for downsized cars which are better suited to congested urban conditions, but without sacrificing interior space and comfort.

The B-MAX concept is powered by an ultra-low-CO2 powertrain, featuring a state-of-the-art three-cylinder 1.0-liter Ford EcoBoost® gasoline engine. This EcoBoost engine is also equipped with the Ford Auto-Start-Stop system.

The three-cylinder Ford EcoBoost engine was first previewed in the Start concept vehicle displayed at the Beijing Motor Show in 2010, and represents the next addition to the global family of Ford EcoBoost engines. The 1.0-liter unit combines direct fuel injection, turbocharging and twin independent variable cam timing to achieve significant reductions in fuel-consumption and CO2 emissions.

The 2011 Geneva Motor Show runs through March 13, 2011, and visitors can see the B-MAX concept as well as the latest Ford production vehicles.




Norway post office first with electric Ford

March 24, 2011

Oslo, Norway – Norway’s postal service will be the first European customer to use Ford’s Transit Connect Electric delivery van.

Norwegian Post signed a contract to purchase 20 of the vehicles with an option to order more in the future. It is the largest provider or mail and logistics services and the biggest employer in Norway.

“The Norwegian Post will be an environmental leader in the mail and logistics industry by taking advantage of the latest technology available,” said CEO Dag Mejdell. “In signing a contract for delivery of the new Ford Transit Connect Electric, the Norwegian Post is taking an important step towards its goal of reducing 150,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.”

The Transit Connect Electric uses a driveline produced by Azure Dynamics and has a top speed of 120 km/h, with a range of up to 130 km on a full charge. It was launched in North America in December 2010 and will be introduced to Europe in the summer of 2011, the company’s first all-electric vehicle in Europe.




Ford’s New Police Interceptors Get Flogged By Real Cops

March 23, 2011

There are those that have voiced concern over the durability of Ford‘s next generation Police vehicles, based on the current Taurus and Explorer.

To help silence the critics, the Blue Oval put together a test at its Arizona Proving Grounds and invited a select number of law enforcement officers from across the US and Canada to put the new sedan and sport utility through their paces in a variety of challenging scenarios and against rival competitors on the market, including Ford’s own Crown Victoria, which the new Interceptor vehicles will replace later this year.

These tests follow on from ‘traditional’ evaluations conducted by the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which have, for decades annually tested every new police vehicle available to law enforcement agencies in North America and rated each of them based on overall performance, safety and suitability.

Unlike the old Crown Vic,  Ford’s new police vehicles employ unibody construction and a choice of front and all-wheel drive, with standard V-6 engines, a 3.5-liter unit in the sedan and a 3.7-liter unit in the SUV. Six-speed automatic transaxles are also standard equipment.  To see how these new police machines performed in Arizona and what the officers thought of them, click on the link below:


(from Blue Oval News)


The Best idea of 2011

March 21, 2011

Ford just ‘kiss’ed me. Kiss, as you may or may not know is required knowledge among engineers of many types as they try to sort out problems. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid! The thought behind the principle is that you don’t need to over engineer something just to make it work properly.

Case in point: How many of you have arrived at the back of your current vehicle with both hands full of say groceries? Now, in order to unlock the trunk or hatch, you have to move stuff from one of your hands so you can unlock the hatch or fish for your keys to push a button. Lately, we have seen more proximity sensors in key fobs, so if you just get close enough and touch the hatch, it will unlock and open, but you still have to empty one of your hands to touch the hatch.

Now, without further ado, I will introduce you to clearly the best idea of 2011 … (drum roll) Ford’s industry-first hands-free lift-gate. Yes hands-free as in no-touch. It’s brilliant!

The hands-free lift-gate allows customers to quickly and easily unlock and open the rear hatch even when their hands are full.

So, how does it do it? How does it know when to open?

What happens is that there is a sensor under the rear facia (bumper to us old folks) that you wave your foot under. Providing you have the key fob with the proximity sensor in your pocket. Like magic, the tailgate will unlock and swing up.

There is no putting stuff down; no fumbling for keys; no touching the tailgate latch; nothing. Just wave your foot under the bumper.

The hands-free lift-gate will debut in the new Ford C-Max later this year. Normally, this is where I tell you how a bit of technology will help you, but in this case, I will let Ford’s C-Max brand manager tell you…

“We recognize that the C-MAX customer usually has his or her hands full. Whether carrying packages while holding a young child’s hand or carrying bags full of groceries, the hands-free lift-gate will make their lives a whole lot easier,” said Wendy King.

This is a classic case of Ford’s engineers getting the most out of the ‘kiss’ formula for success and you heard it here first -this is clearly the best automotive idea of 2011.


(from the Sarnia Observer)