APRIL 2011

Ford helps drivers maximize fuel economy

SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide is an instrument   cluster that coaches hybrid owners on how to maximize their fuel efficiency.

Ford Motor Company has received two patents related to SmartGauge with EcoGuide, an instrument cluster for hybrid owners.

The first patent was awarded earlier this year and covers EcoGuide, the display of leaves and vines that “reacts” to short-term driving habits and coaches drivers in a way that helps them achieve the best fuel economy. The second patent, awarded March 1, covers the power threshold gauge that measures and displays power demand at any given moment.

SmartGauge with EcoGuide features two 4.3” full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on either side of the analog speedometer that can be configured to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, and average and instant miles per gallon.

The power threshold gauge is important, explained David Watson, research engineer and part inventor of SmartGauge with EcoGuide, because it shows how close a vehicle is to switching from electric-only mode to blended mode. With that information, the driver may adjust driving behavior to try and keep the vehicle in electric-only mode.

Taking a design cue from the Ford hybrid leaf logo, Ford graphic designers developed an animation of growing leaves and vines that track and reward a driver’s efficiency.

Called EcoGuide, the function also displays how many miles per gallon a vehicle is getting at any given moment and estimates how many more miles a vehicle has until it runs out of fuel.

The feature allows drivers to choose one of four data screens including:

•Inform: This is the basic level of information such as fuel level and battery charge status.

•Enlighten: The default display mode, this screen displays what mode the vehicle is operating in and instantaneous fuel economy; it includes a tachometer.

•Engage: This screen includes a gauge that shows gasoline and electric power use.

•Empower: This level gives a full range of hybrid information that allows drivers to monitor the level of their driving efficiency.

All levels show engine coolant temperature and the gear the vehicle is in. Also, they are customizable to show instant fuel economy; fuel economy history; odometer and trip data, including trip fuel economy; long-term fuel economy and miles to empty. And while most competitive vehicles have some of this information in the center stack, Ford has made it conveniently located right in front of the driver on the instrument panel.