What the FFE got right?

For the last few months I’ve been posting about various features of the Bolt and how they work (or how to work with or around them LOL). There are a couple that the Focus Electric (FFE) had that the Bolt doesn’t that I miss.

The first one is the ability to precondition on a schedule–I’m sure I’ll miss this one even more in the winter (oh yeah I haven’t even started my daily rantings about winter driving with an EV again LOL–I suspect the Bolt in winter will be easier to deal with than the FFE was due to the larger battery). In the FFE you could setup a daily schedule and temperature: “Have the cabin at 72F by 7:00 am M-F”. This was great, especially when I parked it outside. I got very spoiled walking to a 80F car on a cold February morning with 1″ of fresh snow everywhere–except the car’s windows because it had all melted off. Once the schedule was set you could just let the car do its thing and forget about it. Even the C-Max has the precondition schedule although it didn’t seem to work as well: The car didn’t feel like it was 80F or even 70F in the morning (It seems like the C-Max will only precondition for about 15 minutes where the FFE would precondition for a good 30 minutes). Now the Bolt does have preconditioning: There is a “Precondition” button in the app but you have to remember to press it; there is no schedule to setup somewhere to “have the car ready by X:XX time”. At the moment the Bolt is stored outside which means preconditioning will be necessary in the coming winter (to clear the ice/snow off the windows, etc.).

The 2nd feature the FFE had that the Bolt doesn’t is a tightly integrated navigation system. The Bolt has no navigation: it relies on Android Auto(AA) or Apple Car Play(ACP) for navigation. In most ways this is a good thing: both AA and ACP will have the latest version of maps, points of interest, etc. and they are both “free” (as long as you have the expensive smartphone). This is pretty smart on GM’s account as the smartphone navigation features tend to be a little better than the built in ones in cars. Except for the FFE: Ford had integrated the navigation system with the range of the car on the dashboard (I’m sure this was an effort to reduce “range anxiety”) but it worked.

I’m talking about the “Status” indicator on the FFE here. When no destination was programmed into the Nav system the Status indicator would show how well you are driving compared to the last “tank” of electrons. If you were driving “worse” the status indicator would show a negative value (the number of miles you’ll be short). If you were driving “better” the status indicator would show a positive value (the number of “extra” miles you’ll get). In the Bolt a similar display is at the very left of the range gauge–a bar graph showing how well you’re driving against your past driving style.

When a destination was programmed into the Navigation system, however, is when the Status indicator showed its true value. Since the car now knows where you’re going it can compare the range left in the battery with the distance remaining to the destination that calculation became the status indicator. This is the feature the Bolt is missing and can’t really do because the Nav is in your phone which has no knowledge of the car’s current range (they could do it in the Chevy app since it is talking to the car but that has its own list of bugs ! LOL).

I found myself frequently using this feature in the FFE. Now the Nav system has another use: Not only can you use it for directions (very rarely, in fact, in a car that only goes 70 miles) but you can also use it for the “can I make it” questions. I would program in a destination even though I knew how to get there because I could adjust my driving style so that I could make it to that destination (by keeping the Status value positive). This was especially useful in the winter when the car’s range would drop to 50 miles or less.

You could argue, however, that with the Bolt’s 238+ range that such an indicator isn’t necessary and I would agree with you most of the time. There are instances where knowing if you’ll make it or not would be nice especially if knowing you’ll make it means you can increase your speed or use extra A/C or heat. This would have been handy on our long range run we did a few weeks ago.

Of course both of these features are “nice to have” I’ll happily live with the Bolt without them (and if I never had the FFE before the Bolt I wouldn’t have even known about them), but it would have made the Bolt a little bit nicer to live with had they been there.

The real question I have is will the next Ford BEV’s have these features (of course if we ever see any of the Ford BEV’s they have been promising for some time now)?

 

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What the FFE got right?

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

MyFordMobile–new stuff!

Well this is what I get for not paying attention! Or rather: Since My Ford Mobile wasn’t that great I really didn’t pay attention to the updates–other than the watch support update. Well I should have.

One of the complaints about MyFord Mobile was that the map/charger display screen was horrible. It was supposed to be a map display of all the chargers near you. You get to the display by pressing the plug icon on the bottom of the app (for both iOS and Android). It was very clunky: You would have to press + or – icons to change the zoom. Panning was just as horrible. Compared with the native map apps it was very frustrating to use.

No more!

Now the map display is very useful, fast, and user friendly. There are even some pretty cool features. Lets start with the legend: (You get to the legend by pressing the gear button at top left)
Map Legend
The interesting thing here is the color code: Green for charge stations within your current range, yellow for ones you could get to if you drove very carefully, and, finally, red for stations you have no hope of getting to. This is really cool. Lets take a look at what that looks like:
Map Legend

Here I’ve panned the map (simply by sliding my finger–like you’d expect to do!) to the edge of my range. You see some stations I can get to, some at the edge of range, and a few I simply couldn’t get to. This feature alone increased the value of this app immensely. Now I’m more likely to use this feature over some other app (like plugshare).

But wait, there’s more: What if I tap on one of those charge stations:
Map Legend

All the information about that charge station, including two buttons: Send to SYNC and Show Route. The Show Route button pops you into the devices native maps app for directions to that location. The Send to SYNC button, however, lets you send that charge station to the MyFordTouch display in the car via your cell phone (the phone # you type in has to be registered for Sync Services). I believe the Send to SYNC feature is new, but honestly I haven’t used this piece of the software in such a long time because of how horrible it used to be–not anymore.

Now the next time I’m planning a long drive in the FFE (or a drive to a destination I haven’t taken it before) I may find myself using the MyFord Mobile app first…instead of not at all!

 

MyFordMobile–new stuff!

We’ve been merged

Woke up this morning to the following e-mail:

 Dear Focus Electric MyFord Mobile User,

We wanted to let you know that we have successfully implemented the changes that we notified you of in a previous email.   The Focus Electric version of MyFord Mobile has now been migrated to our new environment.  Rest assured, all of the Focus Electric-specific content has been maintained.  We value your commitment to purely electric vehicles.

Impact to you

  • You will still be able to use your existing user name and password on the new site.  In the event that you have both a Focus Electric and a Plug-In Hybrid account, the Plug-In Hybrid account credentials will take precedence.
  • There is a new MyFord Mobile app available for both iPhone and Android. The existing Focus Electric app no longer functions or receives updates. You will now need to delete the old app and download the new app.
  • To ensure the system is displaying the most recent vehicle and driving information, you should press the “Update” button immediately after logging into MyFord Mobile.
  • Your data has been migrated from the current version to the new version.
  • You will have to re-enter any Value Charge times after selecting the “Update” button.

The new MyFord Mobile app is now functional for Focus Electric customers and can be downloaded via the following:

Android

iPhone

In addition, as we streamline the user experience, the following features have been affected:

  • The Discussion forum will become available at a later date
  • Trip Planner is now available only on the mobile app
  • Facebook and Twitter integration for driving achievements have be discontinued

Benefits

Having a single MyFord Mobile offering serving both our Focus Electric and our Plug-In Hybrid customers enables future enhancements to be made more quickly. We recognize that Focus EV drivers have very different needs than PHEV drivers.  In fact, your EV-specific functionality remains and non-EV functionality will not be displayed for Focus EV’s.

We hope you have an enjoyable experience with the new MyFord Mobile system.  Should you have any issues, please call the Customer Relationship Center at 1-800-392-3673. After the language prompt please select option 3 and then option 4 to be connected with the team that interacts with consumers on Ford’s In-Vehicle Technology.  The hours of operation are 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM M-F and 11:30 AM – 5:00 PM Saturday (ET).

Regards,

Beth Profitt
MyFord Mobile Manager, Connected Services
Ford Motor Company

Chad D’Arcy
Focus Electric Marketing Manager
Ford Motor Company

From what I can tell it appears that the functionality is almost exactly the same as it was: What wasn’t working still isn’t working, and what was working still works. For instance: The trip and charge log accurately reflects the fact that I drove somewhere and charged but the values in the log are completely inaccurate (miles driven, power used, power charged, etc.). I was hoping for some improvement. This would also imply that the issue is not with the website (inaccurately displaying the data) but with the car inaccurately sending the data to the website. Which means to get any meaningful data on the website it will take another software update to the car…

 

We’ve been merged

Ready to “Go”…

An interesting feature in the Focus Electric that I think I’ll enjoy much more as the weather gets chillier is the “Go Times”. Along with scheduling when it charges you can also schedule the car to “turn on” up to twice a day. About 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled time, if plugged in, the car will power up and set the climate system to a desired temperature (65, 72, or 85 degrees F).

This works out quite well if you have a fixed schedule during the week: My car is setup to warm itself up to 72 degrees every weekday morning just before I leave for work. I figured out that the car will keep running for up to 15 minutes after the “Go” time and have thus scheduled the time to 10 minutes prior my departure time–this lets the car warm up (or cool down) for an extra 10 minutes before I leave (something I’m sure will come in handy in January!).

In addition to heating/cooling the cabin for the driver’s comfort; setting the “Go” time also lets the car heat/cool the battery to the optimum temperature. This piece of the “Go” times is likely more important than driver comfort as the battery’s performance is affected more by temperature than the driver’s. A very hot or very cold battery will not provide the same range in the car as one at a nice and toasty 70 degrees or so.

 

Ready to “Go”…