No one can argue that plug in hybrids like the Ford Fusion are incredibly efficient cars. But, what if we told you that these cars aren’t operating at their full potential when it comes to fuel conservation? Plug-in hybrids run on an electric charge until they run out, then operate on its gas engine once the battery is depleted. In reality, it would be ideal if cars could run on electric mode in certain situations (like at lower speeds), and a car that can intelligently switch between modes based on driving conditions would save even more gas.
Vehicle batteries are more efficient when operating at slower speeds, in addition, commuters may choose to save their battery power for certain areas in their commute. In London, for example, motorists driving on battery power are exempted from the costly inner city commuter fee.
In an effort to make this kind of intelligent driving a reality, Ford has introduced its Ford Green Zone system. In its preliminary form, the driver would visit a website (or use the navigation screen), and designate on a map where the vehicle should automatically go into electric mode, if it’s able.
The system would also automatically factor in traffic conditions, the grade of the roadway, and driver behavior to determine when it’s most efficient to use battery power versus gas power.
“We’re looking at ways to make driving more efficient, intelligent and safer,” explains Joel Brush, a global account director with Here, a subsidiary of technology giant Nokia, which is providing the underlying mapping information for the Ford Green Zone system.
This kind of technology would not only benefit plug-in hybrids, but also conventional vehicles. Nokia’s mapping data is so precise that it can know when a car is approaching a hill or entering a turn, which could be used to direct headlights or change gears.
While Ford is still several years away from offering Ford Green Zone in dealerships, the automaker is confident that it will eventually offer the technology in at least some of its cars.
We look forward to Ford Green Zone making its way into our favorite cars, but until then, stop by Cambridge Classic Ford to check out our selection of hybrid cars.