Are you still here?

Yes, I’m still here. Not much to post about lately..catching up:

  • Ford announced a 300 mile SUV EV (something I posted about).
  • Then Ford sacked their CEO.
  • Since then no news from Ford either good or bad (e.g. have the plans changed, will the EV come sooner or later–don’t know…)

Other things: I’ve been able to take the C-Max Energi camping some more: 

Here it is with us at the Nashville KOA. It really is a great car for a “toad” (car towed along with the RV). Its small but not too small (same size as an Escape), with a small EVSE like my LCS-20P you can charge it up at the campground and be ready for any adventures/sightseeing/etc. and it can be towed 4-wheels down (we use a dolly so we can take any FWD car). About the only drawback to the C-Max Energi is its weight: at 3900+ lbs it is a bit heavy; enough so that some RV’s may not be able to tow it (the Hybrid version comes in at 3600+ lbs..those 200 lbs fewer may make all the difference).

So, yes, I’m still here and still posting (looks like I’m at a one a month give or take clip)…

 

Are you still here?

Hey it only took a year

When I first picked up the C-Max I immediately setup a charge profile for home. For some reason, though, it didn’t work the way I had expected. My experience with the Focus Electric was quite positive with respect to the charge profiles–once I had set them up they pretty much worked 99% of the time. The C-Max was different, and after a couple of weeks I finally gave up and deleted my charge locations. I even have at least one post about this.

I’ve been using the method I described in that post ever since. Fast forward to now. Ford has been working on a software update for Sync 3 that includes Android Auto and Apple Car play. This update has been shipping on 2017 model year cars for a while now; its just been taking Ford a while to get the update for the 2016s working/released. Not too long ago a version of this update leaked (really!?). After a few weeks I figured “what the heck I’ll give it a shot”. The update process went pretty smoothly (it is Ford software, not some hack). Android Auto is pretty cool–perhaps that will deserve a post of its own.

With the new software installed I figured I’d play with value charge and charge locations again. Thus I re-setup my home location with a charge window slightly different from the one I setup for the default location. For the next few days when approaching home I would put the radio on the charge setup screen so I could watch which profile it chose to use. This was very enlightening. Turns out something that I had suspected in my post (linked above) is true: On the C-Max the charge now/value charge setting is global. On the Focus Electric that setting was tied to each charge location (so the default charge location could be set to charge now and your home location could be set to value charge). (I also suspect the older software worked this way as well, just my thick head couldn’t figure it out! LOL) Thus now I can leave the default profile set to charge 24/7 and home to the window I want and it should work. On the my ford mobile website, however, it shows the charge now/value charge setting like it is on the Focus; separate:

The really goofy thing about this is that with the setting global it makes it even easier to put the quick flip on the dashboard like the Focus Electric does. The new version of Sync 3 does reduce that change to three clicks from four though.

Hey it only took a year

A year of C-Max

One year down, two to go–at least for the C-Max lease. It took a while but I’m now pretty used to the gas engine kicking in. I find I’m using gas more with colder weather to keep the car warm (in summer the trip meter would hover around 100mpg, in the colder months its more like 50mpg).

The car seems to have a similar quirk to the FFE: If you don’t start it quite right it doesn’t like it. In this case I’ve seen a few times where I didn’t start it and it thought it was only a hybrid (wouldn’t let me select EV Now, or EV Later modes). Turning off the car, opening in a door, and restarting easily clears that condition.Strange not being able to select a mode even when the dash is showing a full battery.

EV only range on the C-Max goes from a pitiful 13 miles or so (cold weather, using climate control) to about 28 miles (80s, no climate or minimal A/C). I would much prefer the car to have a solid 50 miles of summer range. 50 miles would be perfect for my commute–even in winter–it could reduce my gas consumption to virtually zero.

It sits taller than a Focus–more like the dimensions of an Escape (my wife drives a 2014 Escape and we park them next to each other in the garage; they are very similar in size and shape). This means that ingress and egress are much easier than the Focus as there is more room and you don’t have to lower/raise yourself to/from seat level. This alone makes the C-Max a bit more livable than the Focus.

Still, though, I’d give some of that up for a bit more EV range, or a full BEV. Reading many of the EV sites you get the feeling that people just love their EVs and would prefer to have a BEV than a PHEV… I would tend to agree with that. Now if Ford would only release their 300 mile EV SUV in Jaunary of 2019 ;).

 

A year of C-Max

Strange math

Here is an interesting, um, feature of the car: The car has a range display that shows gas range + electric range (when everything is full it will display something like 600 + 22 or so). The trip meter, on the other hand, will show you total miles, and “EV Miles”.

The way these are calculated is very interesting: The gas range value shows “hybrid range available” and “EV only” range available. The trip meter, however, shows total miles and “EV miles”. The “EV only” range is not the same as “EV miles” on the trip meter.

I seem to be averaging about 1000 miles a tank of gas, at least that is what the trip meter is telling me: ~1000 miles total, and 700 miles EV. Hang on doesn’t that mean I only went 300 miles on gas? Nope, this is where the strange math comes in. The “EV miles” on the trip meter simply measures how many miles the car traveled on battery power only. Now you can see the disparity: When running in hybrid mode the car will run the engine at its most optimum speed and store excess rotational energy in the battery (e.g. runs the engine faster than required to move the car and uses the generator to take up the excess speed above what the car needs to move). When the battery has stored sufficient electricity it uses the electric motor to drive the car and shuts down the gas engine (until the battery is depleted below a certain point). In this electric drive state the trip meter counts the distance as “EV only” because the gas engine is off, but the range meter counts this towards the gas engine range (presumably because the electricity came from the gas engine).

The net effect of all that is there is no way you can relate the range values to the values the trip meter shows you. Sure the range is a pretty accurate representation of how far you can go on your remaining fuel but there is no way to account for the differences between the trip meter and the range value.

Yeah I know: “This seems like a long blog post to be nit picking about some gauge values” and you’re right but I have to post about something now and then LOL. I really count this difference (and post here) as just an observation and not “nit picking” though as it doesn’t bother me that much: You are going to use the range and the trip meter for two different purposes and probably never will want to “do the math” to see how they relate anyway. All these different ways of calculating, though, really make it difficult to come up with a “true” mpg figure for the car though (it does show one in diagnostic mode but that is for another post).

 

 

Strange math

C-Max Update

Just a quick little update (since I really haven’t seen any EV news lately that is significant enough to report on–will probably post something once the Bolt goes on sale, and auto show season is rapidly approaching).

As far as the C-Max: The dash has been telling me I’m averaging around 110 mpg. Of course the dash doesn’t account for the electricity pumped into it overnight. In reality I believe I’m getting closer to 50 mpg or so when running on gas and a bit worse than the FFE did when running on electricity (that would stand to reason: Its heavier than the FFE, and a bit taller).

The temps around here are starting to turn slightly so I’ll probably be running more gas than I did over the summer…aaahhh lovely heat.

Adding up the cost of electricity plus the gas cost still comes within about $10 of the electricity only cost of the FFE. This is kind of expected as I am using very little gas (filling up about once a month or so). The trip meter says I’m getting about 1000 miles out of a tank of gas–it also reports out the electricity used for those miles; I’ll have to take note next time I fill up.

Well that is about it…noting new…yet.

 

C-Max Update

Alexa start my car

Here is something interesting: Ford will be integrating My Ford Mobile with Amazon’s Echo (Alexa).

According to the article you’ll be able to start your car, lock and unlock the doors, etc. by speaking with Alexa. This represents simple commands that Alexa can send to My Ford Mobil.

More interesting is that you’ll be able to command Alexa to do things from inside the car (set your house temperature, cue up music, etc.). This must mean that there will be a Sync app for Alexa on Sync 3 equipped vehicles (this is the easiest, and most logical course for applying this functionality).

Much like adding watch support to My Ford Mobile (about a year ago) this seems like something pretty easy to accomplish as most of the work involves linking internet servers (Ford’s My Ford Mobile server with Amazon’s–heck who knows: maybe My Ford Mobile is hosted in AWS!).

 

Alexa start my car

You get electricity and you get electricity…woops

My 2nd post about combining two of my “hobbies”: EV Enthusiasm, and camping:

Since Ford forbids you from towing the FFE with even a single wheel on the ground I was never able to take it camping–except for one trip where the campground was within the FFE’s range (kind of boring).

The C-Max can be flat towed (we don’t have it setup for that) but that also means you can tow it on a dolly (what looks like the C-Max’s front wheel in this picture is really the dolly’s wheel–the C-Max is parked immediately behind the dolly).

What this also means is I finally get to try out my LCS-20p at a campground. Waaaay back when I first got the FFE I picked up the LCS-20p and made an adapter to work with the 50 amp plugs at campgrounds. (Our only camping trip with the FFE was before I wired up the adapter.)

Once we were all setup (as you see above) with everything plugged in and up and running I dug out the LCS-20p and plugged it in. It flashed all its LEDs as it went through the power on diagnostics and indicated everything was good–yaay that cable I wired up myself was correct.

With the car happily charging we went on with our business. Then about 30-40 minutes later…poof! No power. Uh oh? Was that me? Looking around all the breakers in the camper and out–nope they are all good. Hmmm. Then a neighbor pops their head up: “Do you have power?” “Nope” Wow multiple campsites are down? I don’t think its my cable? The car would not have been drawing much current (the C-Max only has a 3.3 kW charger, unlike the FFE with its 6.6 kW charger now that would have really brought down the system LOL).

A little while later the campground gets the power back up and running: A larger breaker blew for the entire lane we were on–right across the street from us. At this point I’m thinking: Ok it probably wasn’t me charging that caused it with it being a very hot & humid day but it is possible that my car was the little bit that pushed the breaker over the edge. So I decided to forgo any further charging on the car (it got up to 92% anyway more than enough for the weekend).

The next morning as we were getting ready to go out….pop! The breaker blew again. Ah ha! It wasn’t the car (wasn’t plugged in) LOL Knowing what was wrong I waited a few minutes for the breaker to cool, walked over and reset the breaker. A few minutes later a puzzled looking maintenance worker was asking everyone if they had power?? LOL

Now I’m ready for the next C-Max’ing camping trip… 🙂

 

 

You get electricity and you get electricity…woops