Driving with one pedal

One pedal? What? This is a “mode” many EVs can be put in to drive without touching the brake pedal at all. How does that work? This is accomplished with some very specific changes to the driving experience:

  • Creep is turned off–the car no longer inches forward if you take your foot off the accelerator.
  • The brake lights are automatically controlled by an accelerometer or some other system rather than a switch on the brake pedal.
  • The calibration of the accelerator pedal is changed such that the first few degrees of depression is regen (braking using the motor) instead of forward torque.
  • That accelerator regen is enough to bring the car to a complete stop.

Now the FFE did not have such a mode–being a first generation EV they probably didn’t think of that. Even so with the Focus’s blended brake you kind of got the same result by driving it in a conventional manner (the FFE would automatically choose how much regen vs how much friction brake to use when you hit the brake pedal).

All the Tesla’s have a one pedal mode–of course, I believe the i3 also has a one pedal mode (while searching to see what has one pedal mode I did find this article about one pedal driving; makes the point better than I do–but I’ll continue nonetheless LOL).

In the Bolt putting the shifter in “L” enables one pedal mode. Taking your foot off of the accelerator will bring the car to a stop on level pavement (the owner’s manual does say that if you’re on an incline you may have to use the brake pedal to ensure the car doesn’t move at the stop; it also mentions that the brake pedal should always be used at a stop as the brake lights will turn off once the car stops moving). The max deceleration with your foot off the pedal is 0.2G; if more is desired there is a regen paddle behind the steering wheel that will increase that to 0.4G. One pedal mode does work much better if you drive relaxed and start “braking” much earlier than you normally would–something I’ve already gotten used to thanks to the brake coach in the FFE. You can still use the brake pedal if needed–indeed you’ll still instinctively stomp on the brake pedal in a panic situation. Of course this means that the brake pads on the car will never wear out if all you do is drive in “L”.

Which is something I do; its just muscle memory now putting it into L for every trip. The car’s range increases somewhat when you drive in one pedal mode vs “conventional” driving–simply due to the fact that you are not regenerating nearly as much driving it conventionally. This also makes it fun hopping back into any other car as they feel like they are on ice when taking you foot off the gas (which just makes you instinctively hit the brake so adjusting back is pretty easy).

When I drove a family member’s Tesla I tried out one pedal mode briefly–not nearly long enough to get the hang of it. Now, though, I drive that way every day (in the Bolt, of course, not a Tesla LOL).

 

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Driving with one pedal

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

The equation is different

Hey a weather post…sort of.

Much like the FFE the C-Max also shows an increase in EV range when the weather warms up (as well as going slow..see the last post about that).

In late May in Michigan we’ve been getting a bunch of warmer weather (in the mid-to high 80s F). This means that I’m averaging around 25 miles of EV range for my commute (still no highway of course). This also means that I only use “hybrid mode” for 5 miles of my ~30 mile commute.

A consequence of this is that I probably will not have to get gas until after Labor Day. When I got the car in winter I was using the ICE a lot more to stay warm. Not now. Even using the air conditioning doesn’t require enough juice to make me turn on the ICE (a similar experience to the FFE).

Right now the car is showing a range of 600+25 miles when everything is filled up. I’ve never owned a car that had such range (my 2012 ICE Focus would go about 350, and the RV with its 55 gallon! gas tank can go a hair over 400 miles if we milk it). This kind of range means even for the longest driving vacations we’ve had I’d only need to fill up once before getting to the destination (4 fillups for the trips in total: <1200 miles one way). This is astounding and it still has about the same size tank as that 2012 ICE Focus (approx 14 gallons).

When driving in hybrid mode you can see this efficiency: The engine will run for about a 1/2 mile or so both propelling the car and charging the battery a bit. It will then shut down and the car will use the charge just accumulated to propel the car for about 2 or 3 times the distance (haven’t really measured this so it is my perception that its 2 or 3 times the 1/2 mile–mostly on 45mph roads or slower). Even in this mode the car has an aversion to running the ICE. The warmer weather clearly also affecting the hybrid mode range as well.

Granted I’m still plugging in and charging to full every night and thus I’m not using gas but I’m using electricity (thus the car’s mpg numbers it calculates are a bit of a cheat). Another interesting aspect of this is public charge stations: I’ve only used a couple since I’ve got the C-Max as I don’t need them anymore. Since I have driven a pure EV I know the feeling of needing a public charge station to get somewhere; thus now I don’t use them and even feel slightly guilty for using a public charge station knowing that I could be taking up a spot that someone else may need more so than I–I can always switch to gas.

I went from driving a car that could only go about 70 miles a “tank” to almost 700…range anxiety? whats that?

 

The equation is different

Buggy car!

Call me silly! I had thought that since the C-Max Energi has been out a while that Ford would have worked all the bugs out–much like the FFE (Ford is issuing another recall to fix some of the remaining spurious SSN problems related to the high-voltage wiring harness).

I guess with the introduction of Sync 3 they added a bunch more bugs into the system (even though Sync 3 is a huge improvement over My Ford Touch). So far here is a short list of the bugs:

  • Only got the “Go times” to work once. They are listed on the dash and the car properly highlights the next one it will use but it never actually does anything at the prescribed time. It doesn’t seem to make a difference if I set them up inside the car or via the MyFordMobile website. Not sure how I got it to work that one time!
  • Took a while to get the value charging working as well (perhaps this is related to above). The MyFordMobile website doesn’t correctly show the Value Charge/Charge Now state of my charge locations and hence its difficult to tell if the car will charge right away or wait.
  • Not sure if this is a bug or not: While waiting to value charge the car will leave the EVSE contactors engaged even though it isn’t drawing any current. The FFE would disengage the EVSE while it was waiting to value charge.
  • The charge ring setting seems to be ignored. I set the charge ring to “limited” like I had on the FFE and it appears to always behave like the “on” setting.
  • I’ve remote started the car several times while it was plugged in. In all but 1 instance the car started on electricity and kicked on the HVAC as I had expected. In the 1 instance: after about 10 seconds it attempted to start the engine and then immediately shut down. I restarted it and it did the same thing. Like it was confused: part of the car knew it was plugged in and another part of the car didn’t (I’ve seen similar behavior in the FFE when one part of the car didn’t know about something another part of the car knew).

There are other things about the car that I’m still learning/getting used to: The Auto/EV Now/EV Later button’s state “sticks” until the car switches back to hybrid mode (e.g. the “EV battery” is discharged). I was kind of expecting that to reset back to Auto on a key cycle (although it makes sense that it would stick).

As far as driving: Last week I used EV later in the morning and attempted to go my entire afternoon commute on EV only. Since we’re still in the depth of winter I would always use up the EV battery before arriving home. This week I’m going to try the opposite: Use EV Now in the morning like I would in the FFE: prewarm the car and then turn off the HVAC for the commute in. At the moment the guess-O-meter is showing about 16.5 miles EV range so I should be able to accomplish that.

About that guess-O-meter: On this car it is much more stable than it was on the FFE. Ford really should have whoever wrote the software for the C-Max’s GOM take a look at the FFE’s code. As an example: on the FFE if you drove the highway for a while and then took a leisurely drive down some residential streets the GOM value would increase pretty rapidly as you drove slow. On the C-Max I notice no such large swings..instead it creeps slowly by tenths of a mile.

Update: Just yesterday My Ford Mobile showed this for a charge location when the car was sitting in my garage charging:

Buggy car!

A few days in the C-Max

I’m on my 3rd day now driving around the C-Max Energi. Here are a few impressions of it:

Its a nice sized car. Taller than the Focus which means easier ingress and egress, more head room, more back seat room. Strangely the wheelbase doesn’t seem to be any longer (I didn’t have to move my parking stop in the garage between the two). Handles about as good as the Focus did even though its taller.

Hybrid driving: I now have to get used to the occasional rumble of an ICE again. As far as they go the C-Max is pretty smooth in that regard. You can feel it start up just a little–I’m sure I’m more sensitive to this than others simply because I’ve driven an EV for the past 3 years or so. In addition, because of being a hybrid, the ICE’s RPMs don’t directly match the pedal position, or the vehicle speed (something you’d expect in a normal car). All of which is easy to get used to.

Most of the EV features are still there (go-times and value charging) of which I’ve now programmed both. Although I may not be taking as much of an advantage with value charging in this car as I did with the FFE–since the battery is much smaller I’ll have to charge it up more frequently to minimize gas consumption.

Auto/EV Now/EV Later: This is an intriguing function of the car. You can put it into one of the three modes. Auto is normal operation as a hybrid. EV Now will bias operation towards driving around as an EV more and EV Later biases operation towards using the ICE more to conserve battery power. From what I can tell the modes simply change the maintain point on the battery (e.g. in EV Later it attempts to keep the battery 92% charged, EV Now it moves that point further south, almost to 0%).

Sync 3: A much nicer system than My Ford Touch. All of the same features are there, and the voice commands are virtually identical (even the voice of the system is the same). Its just a lot more responsive, can handle two finger touch (pinch to zoom on the maps!) and has a different menu structure. In addition are cool features like WiFi update: Connect it up to your household WiFi and it will automatically download software updates–nice!

Well that’s about all I have for now…

 

A few days in the C-Max

One of those days…

Yesterday I had one of those days. It was the kind of day that ICE drivers use as an excuse for why they don’t want to drive an EV. A busy Saturday starting out running some short errands which turn into longer errands, then out to dinner, and finally the local department of transportation decided that now would be a good time to close off that entrance ramp to the freeway that you were going to take thus adding another 10 miles to your drive…and so on.

At the end of the day the trip meter showed a total of 65 miles driven with 20 miles of range left (I managed to get a quick 1/2 hour charge at home between trips). Had I known the day would have turned out that way from the beginning I would have had the car charge all the time at home (taken off value charge for you FFE owners). Here is the thing, though: the car made it all day, it never left us stuck at the side of the road with no juice. They don’t just suddenly run out of power, there is a gauge telling you how much you have to go. If at any one time I had thought that the trip was longer than what the car could do we would have taken the other car (or waited on the charge). Its as simple as that..

 

One of those days…

Traffic Jams and the ICE Mindset

Now and then when talking to people about my FFE/EV I hear a common question, one that people think will “sink” the EV: “What if you get caught in a traffic jam?”

Its interesting to ponder the one question. It is rooted in the fact that if you are driving a conventional car and get caught in stop and go traffic your engine continues to run burning gas. If you don’t have much fuel to begin with (e.g. not much range in the EV) then you may have a problem as you burn through your fuel sitting there.

This certainly is the case during the winter months, especially in the FFE due to the cabin heater. If you are not moving you’ll need some heat. In the FFE the cabin heater is the most power hungry accessory in the car. Thus stuck in traffic burning through electrons to simply heat the cabin you may very well have an issue. On a very hot day the problem is similar with the A/C consuming some electricity (but not nearly as much as the heater).

On a much milder day, however, when you can just sit in traffic with the windows open (if you don’t mind the noise & smell from the other cars) you will use very little electricity at all. In fact as you go slower the “guess-o-meter” will actually increase your available range because you’re using less electricity. Its fun sitting in traffic watching the status indicator creep up and up–at times I’ve had the available range after a traffic jam be more than the range at the start of the trip!

So the next time you hear: “What if you get caught in a traffic jam?” respond with something like: “EV’s love traffic jams”!

 

Traffic Jams and the ICE Mindset