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Ford’s MyEnergi Lifestyle initiative has partnered with Katie Couric’s daytime talk show to offer a contest that will award a home energy makeover and a Ford C-MAX Energi electric vehicle.  Read on for details!

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Ford has partnered with Katie Couric’s daytime talk show to offer a contest that will award a home energy makeover and a Ford C-MAX Energi electric vehicle.  Ford’s MyEnergi Lifestyle initiative is a joint effort by Ford, Whirlpool, SunPower, Eaton and Nest;  it “…showcases how combining renewable energy generation with “time-flexible” loads optimizes energy consumption across a plug-in vehicle and home appliances”.  The initiative leverages Ford’s intellectual property created during their electrical vehicle program to bear to save consumers money and CO2 emissions by reducing power consumption and buying power more efficiently.  In order to publicize this program, Ford has teamed up with the Katie Show to offer a home energy makeover and a new C-MAX Energi to the lucky winner.  Check out this video that explains some of the benefits of the initiative:

Here is the press release:

MyEnergi Lifestyle Contest Offers Home Energy Makeover, Ford C-MAX Energi – Featured on ‘Katie’ Show

  • Ford-led MyEnergi Lifestyle® retrofit contest demonstrates how a typical American family can achieve energy and cost savings by easily moving to an energy-efficient lifestyle
  • National contest now open and runs through June 9. Winner to receive a package that includes a Ford C-MAX Energi – America’s most affordable plug-in hybrid vehicle, Whirlpool brand appliances, SunPower solar power system, Eaton charging station and other energy-saving products
  • Families could see up to a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and savings of more than 9,000 kilograms of CO2 – a reduction of 55 percent – in their home

DEARBORN, Mich., May 13, 2013 – Ford and the MyEnergi Lifestyle® initiative have kicked off the MyEnergi Lifestyle retrofit contest with Katie Couric on her syndicated talk show “Katie.” Homeowners can enter this national contest for a chance to win a package that includes a Ford C-MAX Energi – America’s most affordable plug-in hybrid vehicle, new Whirlpool brand appliances, a SunPower solar power system and other home products designed to bring energy-efficient living to a typical American family.

The contest is now open and runs through June 9, with the grand prize winner to be announced this summer.

Through the MyEnergi Lifestyle initiative, Ford is bringing together leaders in the home appliance, renewable energy and power management industries – including Eaton,SunPower and Whirlpool. Additional featured companies are semiconductor provider Infineon and Nest Labs.

The group worked with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to create a computer model that calculates the electricity usage of a typical family in their home for one year, and the potential savings associated with moving to an energy-efficient lifestyle.

As Americans’ thirst for energy grows, recent advancements in technology make this the ideal time to demonstrate the benefits of optimizing a family’s energy footprint. Along with 729 gallons of gasoline and 122,000 cubic feet of natural gas, the average home in America uses more than 11,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year; in 1930, the figure was 500 kilowatt-hours. That’s an increase of 2,100 percent.

Home appliances have made huge gains in reducing energy usage. Today, the typical smart appliance, like a refrigerator, uses 70 percent less energy than one built in 1980.

“We’re very excited to offer the MyEnergi Lifestyle retrofit to our winning families and to put it to the test,” says Mike Tinskey, Ford global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure. “By combining a Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle, smart energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy generation, we hope to reduce the families’ energy consumption and save them money.

“Our computer models suggest we’re looking at a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and a 55 percent reduction in CO2 annually for these families through the retrofit,” he adds.

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Spotify has made the jump to the  car dashboard thanks to a partnership with Ford.
The music streaming  service will be available through the stereo system in new Ford vehicles via the car manufacturer’s SYNC AppLink platform.
Motorists in the US and Europe will be able to control the Spotify mobile  application through vocal commands, accessing playlists and adjusting volume  settings.
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“SYNC AppLink opens up a whole new world of content to Ford customers that they can access on the move by voice control while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road,” said Ford’s Paul Mascarenas.”As one of the world’s most popular music streaming services, Spotify is  the perfect partner to demonstrate the benefits of the Ford SYNC AppLink system.”Kaliki Audio Newsstand, Glympse and Aha were also confirmed as SYNC AppLink partners at the Mobile World Congress.SYNC AppLink will be  exclusive to new Ford cars at launch, but it is estimated that the technology  will come built-in to 3.5 million Ford vehicles in Europe by 2015.

 

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A few days ago, we told you about the new Ford Developer Program, Ford’s new effort to drive third party development initiative to drive mobile app acceptance in Ford vehicles.  Ford has been in touch with an update; read on for details.

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A few days ago, we told you about the new Ford Developer Program, Ford’s new effort to drive third party development initiative to drive mobile app acceptance in Ford vehicles.  Here is what we told you earlier this week:

Ford announced the Ford Developer Program at CES2013, bringing the ability for mobile device app developers to target apps at your Ford vehicle. Announced apps include location sharing app Glympse, Amazon Cloud Player for music streaming, USA Today for news, and others as well. Included in the program is a complete SDK and even support for developing AppLink-compatible apps.

Ford has reached out with the following update:

Hi Jim —  I’ve got a good follow-up story for you about the Ford Developer Program. After launching it on Monday afternoon, we’ve already had over 1,000 app developers register to access the SYNC AppLink SDK!

The traffic has been a sustained 300 unique visitors per hour, which is a strong indication that we’re getting interest from around the globe as well.

It seems that Ford is off to a good start with this initiative, and with apps already announced from USAToday, The Wall Street Journal, Gympse, Amazon Cloud Player and others, things look bright on the mobile app development front for Ford.  We’ll continue to update you on this initiative as new apps are added over time.

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2013/01/08/ces2013-ford-announces-mobile-device-app-development-initiative/" style="info" window="yes"]Ford Developer Initiative Announcement[/button]

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Ford announced the Ford Developer Program at CES2013, bringing the ability for mobile device app developers to target apps at your Ford vehicle.  Read on for details.

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Ford announced the Ford Developer Program at CES2013, bringing the ability for mobile device app developers to target apps at your Ford vehicle. Announced apps include location sharing app Glympse, Amazon Cloud Player for music streaming, USA Today for news, and others as well.  Included in the program is a complete SDK and even support for developing AppLink-compatible apps.  Here is the press release:

Ford Launches App Developer Program Marking New Course for Customer-Driven Innovation and Value Creation

  • Ford launches the automotive industry’s first open mobile app developer program enabling software developers to integrate their apps with SYNC® AppLink
  • The Ford Developer Program provides a software development kit, technical support from Ford engineers and a developer community

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7, 2013 – Providing developers the information and tools needed for the creation of relevant, voice-activated experiences inside the car, Ford Motor Company today announces the launch of the Ford Developer Program (http://developer.ford.com) at the 2013 International CES.

Utilizing the SYNC® connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface (API), Ford becomes the first automaker in the world to launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience.

“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” said Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development. “Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”

According to a recent Nielsen survey, more than half of all American mobile subscribers now use smartphones of some kind and two-thirds of newly activated phones can run apps. Globally, there are now more than 1 billion smartphone users, a population that is expected to double by 2015. More than 55 billion apps have been downloaded from the leading digital markets, and American users have an average of 67 apps on their devices.

“When we first introduced SYNC in 2007, there was a need for an appropriate way to connect and control cellphones and digital music players in the car due to the massive consumer adoption trend,” continued Thai-Tang. “Offering voice control so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road has proven to be popular with our customers. Now, with an even faster adoption rate of smartphones, there is a need for a renewed focus on voice control for the unique capabilities of these devices, especially for the use of apps.”

A recent Frost & Sullivan study shows one in five survey respondents acknowledge using apps while driving with absolutely no connection to the vehicle. While SYNC provides connectivity and voice control for phones and music players via Bluetooth® or USB, AppLink provides a voice-activated interface, allowing drivers to control smartphone apps without the need to pick up their devices. First launched in 2010, SYNC AppLink provides industry-leading voice command and control of mobile apps including popular services like Pandora personalized radio, Stitcher smart radio, NPR News, iHeartRadio digital radio and Scout personal navigation.

“The car presents an all-new opportunity for developers, especially the millennial market, and we’re looking forward to seeing what results,” said Thai-Tang. “Engaging innovators outside of the company is a key part of our strategy to be consumer-driven in all aspects of our business, helping us not only satisfy what’s going on today, but setting us up for innovative solutions to the challenges coming in the future.”

Millennials – those aged 18-33 – are particularly interested in customizing their experience with consumer products. Four in 10 respondents to a survey of millennials by Edelman 8095 want the opportunity to influence the products they use. Selecting and using apps is one of the easiest ways to personalize the functionality of both communications devices and vehicles they connect to for a unique user experience.

Ford Developer Program
Ford has been in a beta test with a group of invited developers as they work out details of the software development kit (SDK), documentation and technical support systems. With more than three dozen AppLink-compatible apps publicly available on Apple iOS and Google Android, the SDK is now mature enough that Ford engineers are ready to let the vast ecosystem of developers try it out.

The Ford program is similar to those at technology companies including Apple, Google and Facebook. App developers who want to enable their creations for AppLink can now register at http://developer.ford.com to download the AppLink SDK. The SDK contains code libraries and documentation for the APIs that enable two-way communication between mobile apps and the vehicle including voice commands from the driver.

“Since launching AppLink, we’ve worked with developers ranging from a two-man startup at Roximity to large organizations like National Public Radio and Major League Baseball,” said Julius Marchwicki, global product manager for Ford SYNC AppLink. “The experience we gained from these projects as well as supporting hackathons at TechCrunch Disrupt and Facebook has helped us refine the development and testing process.”

In addition to the libraries and documentation, developers will have access to technical support directly from Ford engineers and online discussion forums where they can share lessons learned with other developers.

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Ford has announced an electrical energy initiative, designed to leverage data relative to their electric vehicle business to save homeowners money by more efficiently consuming electricity.  Read on for details.

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Ford has announced an electrical energy initiative, designed to leverage data relative to their electric vehicle business to save homeowners money by more efficiently consuming electricity. Ford has developed a database of electricity pricing which allows them to predict the manner in which you can consume electricity, moving energy-intensive uses like running your refrigerator’s ice maker at night during off-peak hours to save.  Ford developed the database to assist electric vehicle customers in minimizing their electricity spend, and decided to collaborate with appliance and electrical panel manufacturers with the data to help manage your electrical spend and usage.  Here is the press release from Ford:

Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool Team Up for Electric Energy Initiative

  • Ford launches MyEnergi Lifestyle® collaboration to show how a typical American family can significantly reduce their electricity bills and CO2 footprint by integrating today’s home appliance and plug-in vehicle technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology computer model predicts a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and savings of more than 9,000 kg of CO2 (55 percent reduction) from a single home when changes from a MyEnergi Lifestyle product are incorporated; if every home in the U.S. were to implement these energy-saving technologies, it would be the equivalent of taking all the homes in California, New York and Texas off the power grid (32 million homes)
  • Ford and its business associates will highlight MyEnergi Lifestyle technologies and detailed modeling results at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-12

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2013 – Ford Motor Company today announces a strategic collaboration that will demonstrate how a typical American family can significantly reduce their electricity bills and CO2 footprint by integrating home appliance technology with a plug-in vehicle to achieve an energy-efficient lifestyle.

The Ford-led MyEnergi Lifestyle® collaboration – comprised of leaders in the home appliance, renewable energy and power management industries – includes Eaton (NYSE: ETN), SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) and Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR). Additional featured companies include semiconductor provider Infineon (FSE: IFX / OTCQX: IFNNY) and Nest Labs, with its latest learning thermostat represented in the research and implementation phase of the collaboration.

Specifically, MyEnergi Lifestyle showcases how combining renewable energy generation with “time-flexible” loads optimizes energy consumption across a plug-in vehicle and home appliances.

Ford and its business associates worked with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to create a computer model that calculates the electricity usage of a typical single family in their home for one year and the associated savings with moving to an energy-efficient lifestyle. The cumulative results predict a 60 percent reduction in energy costs and more than 9,000 kg of CO2 (55 percent reduction) saved from a single home. If every home in the U.S. were to implement these energy-saving technologies, it would be the equivalent of taking all the homes in California, New York and Texas off the power grid (32 million homes).

Additional results from the Georgia Tech computer model, including in-depth associate product savings, will be revealed at Ford’s display during the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 8-12.

To create a real-world example of how attainable, affordable and convenient a sustainable lifestyle can be, MyEnergi Lifestyle collaborators also announce plans to award a typical American family with delivery and installation of energy-saving products from each company, along with other leading energy-efficient products. All contest and promotion details will be included in a separate announcement soon.

“More than ever, cars are sharing the same energy source as the home,” says Mike Tinskey, global director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Ford Motor Company. “The time is right for the home appliance and transportation sectors to converge if we are going to tackle a myriad of sustainability challenges in a rapidly changing world.”

The average American home uses more than 11,000 kWh of electricity a year, says Warwick Stirling, global director for Energy and Sustainability, Whirlpool Corporation. “But with recent technology advancements in our appliances, a family can use energy smarter and more efficiently,” he adds.

“SunPower is offering Ford plug-in vehicle owners the world’s most efficient solar power systems to ensure they maximize emission-free power generation for use at home and for their vehicles,” says Ken Fong, SunPower general manager, Americas. “SunPower systems offer the industry’s best warranty, so homeowners can count on 25 years or more of clean power to support their sustainability goals and generate significant annual savings on their electricity bills.”

“As innovation in home electrical technology advances, so does the need for safe, reliable and efficient power distribution,” says Joanne Edwards, vice president and general manager, Residential Division, Eaton. “At the same time, giving homeowners the tools to tap into the details of distributed power for their homes allows them to modify their behavior and further reduce energy consumption.”

Driving change: Technology trends

A plug-in vehicle is the largest electrified product most people will ever buy, and it serves as a catalyst for adoption of products that reduce CO2 and save money. Recent advancements in several technologies make this an ideal time to demonstrate the benefits that can be achieved by optimizing a home energy footprint.

Key factors driving MyEnergi Lifestyle include:

  • Electric vehicles, like the all-new Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, are more efficient and can charge during the low-cost electricity hours
  • Appliance efficiency has improved dramatically over the past decade
  • Hot water heaters are more efficient and use nighttime electricity
  • Connected appliances can use less energy during peak periods
  • The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself and automatically saves energy when a homeowner is away
  • Efficient, reliable and affordable rooftop solar systems enable families to generate renewable energy and save money on utility bills
  • Connected devices enable smarter use of energy

In addition to the energy benefits directly received from the latest product offerings of Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool, the widespread deployment of smart meters (now in more than 40 million homes across the U.S.) enables households to take advantage of off-peak rates.

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For most people, buying a new car, truck or SUV is the second-biggest purchase they make after their home, so ensuring the process is as easy and stress-free as possible is critical to customer satisfaction. The new SHOWCASE app being used by Ford sales associates with the Apple iPad is helping dealers find just the right car for their customers faster than ever.

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To view the new SHOWCASE app in action, check out the video below:

http://youtu.be/fmg1FJh5Lo8

“Waiting for the sales consultant to check the inventory or wandering the aisles of a car lot in search of just the right combination of colors and options can be a tedious and time-consuming process,” says Michelle Moody, Cross Vehicle Marketing manager for Ford. “If the weather is bad or the sun has gone down early in the winter months, venturing outside is even less appealing.

“In early 2011 we decided to take advantage of the portable technology that became available with the launch of the iPad to facilitate an improved purchase experience for our customers,” Moody says.

In recent years customers have become accustomed to using various shopping tools to configure and compare vehicles on the Ford.com website. The new SHOWCASE app links this experience to the showroom, giving sales associates new technology to determine what features a customer wants and to immediately check inventory to see which vehicles in stock most closely match those needs.

“We had tried using kiosks in the showroom to enable customers to check out our vehicles and features, but many customers were not as comfortable using these on their own,” Moody says.

Using the new SHOWCASE app running on an iPad, the salesperson can sit with the customer to pick out the model that person wants, then filter the selection based on trim level, colors, equipment and price. The app then displays all the vehicles in stock that match the customer’s criteria including a list of all the equipment installed on each vehicle.

“I have to say it has never been easier finding the right vehicle,” said Maxx Springman, a customer who recently bought a new Escape from All-American Ford in Old Bridge, N.J. “I can’t believe we were able to build the exact Escape I was looking for right there at the salesman’s desk.

“Then we actually found the right one on the lot without having to spend an hour walking around outside looking at different window stickers like I’ve done in the past. Thank goodness, too, because it was, like, 110 degrees out and ready to pour!”

The SHOWCASE app provides instant access to more information including videos about the available features, such technology as SYNC® and MyFord® Touch, as well as driver assist features like adaptive cruise control and active park assist. Using the app, the salesperson can quickly demonstrate features like collision warning with brake support, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) or Lane-Keeping System, which may not be easy to show off during a test drive.

If the customer needs time to consider or discuss the purchase with his or her significant other, the sales associate can email the information on the specific vehicles in stock directly to the customer.

“Customers don’t like to wait while the salesperson walks away to check inventory,” says Rich Savino, owner of All-American Ford, a participant in the pilot program. “The SHOWCASE app helps to create a more intimate experience; it lets customers see what is available instantly and make adjustments if they don’t find what they are looking for.”

The SHOWCASE app was developed by Ford and user interface design specialists Razorfish over a period of several months in 2011. A pilot group of 14 Ford dealers participated in defining the app and then testing it beginning in November 2011. Open registration for all Ford dealers began on Aug. 1, 2012 and nearly 200 dealers have already signed up to use the new app.

Recently, the Build and Price section of Ford.com was enhanced to give customers the ability to save their builds. Ford is also working on a number of future enhancements for the Showcase app including the ability for the sales associate to retrieve custom builds previously saved by the customer and then automatically search inventory to find vehicles that match the customer’s needs.

The SHOWCASE app is just the latest step in Ford’s efforts to improve the customer experience before, during and after the purchase of a new vehicle.

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We spent last week with Ford at their Future Trends event in Detroit, and on the last day we were taken to Ford’s Test Track. One of the things we got to do was see and drive the new 2013 Mustangs, including being driven around by a professional driver.

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The area for this part of the day was called Adrenaline Road, and they were not kidding!

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There were six cars in all – 2 driven by professionals, 2 automatics and 2 manuals.

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We also got taken around the track by a professional driver. This experience was amazing and even 10 minutes after getting out of the car my heart was still racing!

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Towards the end of the morning they had to replace both professionally driven cars because they had gone through all the tyres!

And here is a video showing the new 2013 Mustangs, the Adrenaline Course, being driven around by the two professional drivers and they us having a go ourselves!

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We spent last week with Ford at their Future Trends event in Detroit, and on the last day we were taken to Ford’s Test Track. One of the things we got to do was see and drive the new 2013 Police Inceptors.

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One of the areas was called Police Interceptor Drive and they had the new Sedan and the new Utility versions of the 2013 Police Interceptors available to see and drive – so who were we to turn down such an opportunity!

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Ford have specifically designed and engineered an all-new Police Interceptor vehicle;e to handle the rigors of police work, working hand-in-hand with its Police Advisory Board of law enforcement professionals.

Some details on the vehicles:

  • 3.5-litre Ti-VCT V6 FFV flex fuel-capable
  • Optional 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • All-wheel-drive system

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And here is a short video explaining more about the new 2013 Police Inceptors, and also us driving them!

They were a lot of fun to drive and they handle really well. Queue the Cops theme tune…..

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We spent last week with Ford at their Future Trends event in Detroit, and one of the sessions included seeing how they test their cars in a wind tunnel.

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We were taken to Wind Tunnel 8 where we would be standing in the wind tunnel during a test.

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Because we were actually in the wind tunnel they only took it up to around 25 mph.

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Using smoke, they demonstrated how the new 2013 Ford Fusion deals with wind and is aerodynamic.

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Here is a short video of it in action – apologies that it was a like shaky in parts, but we were in a wind tunnel!

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Here at the 2012 Go Further with Ford conference in Detroit, Ford are demonstrating how biometrics can be used to help with driver wellness.

“In addition to using existing vehicle data to estimate demand on the driver, we’re researching ways to get an even better understanding of the stress level of the driver,” says Gary Strumolo, manager of vehicle design and infotronics, Ford Research and Innovation. “Biometric or health information of the driver can help us better tailor the experience when behind the wheel.”

Turning new biometric sensors toward the driver will help to create a more complete picture of the driver workload. The research team has built a biometric seating buck to test a number of different sensors and gather data on how drivers respond to a variety of inputs for a driver behavior model.


The experimental system adds several sensors to the steering wheel rim and spokes to get more detailed driver information. Anyone who has used modern exercise equipment like treadmills and stair climbers will be familiar with the metal pads on the rim that can be used to measure the driver’s heart rate.


Infrared sensors on the steering wheel monitor the palms of a driver’s hands as well as his or her face looking for changes in temperature. A downward-looking infrared sensor under the steering column measures the cabin temperature to provide a baseline for comparing changes in the driver’s temperature. The final sensor is embedded in the seat belt to assess the driver’s breathing rate.


With a more complete picture of the driver’s health and wellness blended with knowledge of what is happening outside the vehicle, the car will have the intelligence to dynamically adjust the alerts provided to the driver and filter interruptions. With the driver occupied in heavy traffic, the vehicle control system could increase the warning times for forward collision alerts and automatically filter out phone calls and messages, allowing the driver more time to respond. On the other hand, an alert driver on an open highway could receive incoming calls.


“While these features are still in research, they show significant opportunity for us to leverage data already being captured by the vehicle and apply an intelligent decision-making system to simplify the driving experience,” adds Strumolo.

 

With the first retail customers now taking delivery of America’s most energy-efficient compact car, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the MyFord Mobile iPhone app and www.MyFordMobile.com are available to help owners locate charging stations and recharge their cars in half the time of the Nissan Leaf.

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MyFord Mobile allows Focus Electric drivers to link up with their cars via an embedded AT&T wireless module that provides for remote communication with the car to maximize utility and minimize operating costs. Drivers can log in at any time to check the current state of charge of the advanced lithium-ion battery pack and enable the exclusive value charging mode.

Focus Electric drivers also will be able to share, learn and teach smart driving by participating in forums on the MyFord Mobile website – with features such as leader boards, unique achievements and social networking – when the car becomes available through dealers in the first half of 2012. In the process, users will be able to seamlessly upload driving achievements and statistics to popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

“The Focus Electric is a fun car to drive and helps save customers money at the pump; with MyFord Mobile, the enjoyment and savings continue after the vehicle is parked and charging,” said Bill Frykman, Business and Product Development manager. “This innovative app also offers new ways of sharing your driving experiences to create a “cool” factor while educating new Focus Electric drivers on the perks that come with an electric vehicle lifestyle.”

While away from the car, customers can monitor the battery display for the current charge level and for how long the car will need to be plugged in to get a full charge or reach a desired range. The MapQuest-powered trip planner built into both the app and Web portal enables users to find available public charging stations and plan efficient multi-destination routes. Users can select their next destination and send it directly to the car from either the app or the portal for hassle-free voice guidance.

Only MyFord Mobile includes industry-first value charging technology co-developed with Microsoft that can help customers charge the car at the lowest possible cost. Electricity rates can vary widely depending on location, season and time of day. The national average is about 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, but local rates can vary from less than 5 cents at night to more than 37 cents during peak times in areas such as Hawaii.

When the Focus Electric is plugged in at home, value charging harnesses the power of Microsoft’s cloud computing platform to check local utility rates and then automatically starts charging after the prices drop. With value charging, Focus Electric users get reduced operating costs and use power when there is less strain on the electrical grid. An added benefit is owners don’t have to go searching for energy pricing data.

Owners can also use MyFord Mobile to program their driving schedule with GO Times and set a desired cabin temperature. Do you want a warm car on that cold morning? Using GO Times will heat it up without using battery power. Are you leaving in the middle of the night? GO Times will ensure you use as much of that value charge as possible and still ensure you have a full battery.

Of course the battery can only be charged if the Focus Electric is plugged in. The combination of MyFord Mobile and the embedded wireless connection enables the car to send a text message alert to the owner if someone unplugs the Focus before the battery is fully charged or the owner forgets to plug in at night.

MyFord Mobile can also help drivers learn to be more energy efficient by automatically uploading and processing vehicle data from each trip. After arriving at a destination, drivers can check the trip and charge log to see how far they drove, how much energy was consumed and how much braking energy was recaptured. They can also get overall driving scores.

“The MyFord Mobile app and the Focus Electric work together to coach drivers to be more efficient and maximize the benefits of the electric vehicle experience,” said Joe Rork, MyFord Mobile product manager. “We wanted to help drivers get more miles out of every charge and have some fun along the way.”

Focus Electric drivers can register an account now at www.myfordmobile.com and download the iPhone app from the iTunes App Store. Drivers who are curious about making the jump to gasoline-free driving can check out the site and the app as a guest. MyFord Mobile will also work with the upcoming C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids.

We will be meeting with Ford later this month so will be reporting on their other latest developments soon.

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Last year I spent time at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn. One of things I saw was MyFord Touch. Late last year Ford announced upgrades to MyFord Touch and starting this week they are shipping.

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Ford is delivering on the promise of the “Upgradeable Car” –  more than 300,000 current MyFord Touch owners will be receiving upgrade packages in the mail this week that include a USB flash drive with updated software for at-home installation, all free of charge.

The MyFord Touch upgrade provides an improved user experience based on feedback from owners, dealers and employees and includes simpler graphics and text, faster touch screen response and better phone pairing and compatibility. In addition, Ford continues to migrate MyFord Touch across its product line; the 2013 Ford Taurus and Ford Flex will be the first two of seven new models launching this year with the new system

New features

Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.

Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.

Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:

· Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance

– Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed

– Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., “Main Street” instead of “North Main Street”

– Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in (parenthesis) or [brackets]

– Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as “Tune to Detroit Lions game”

· Tablet device compatibility

– Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection

· Audible.com audiobook support

– Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls

· Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ

– Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks

– Views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images

– Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns

· Phone compatibility

– Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved

– Noise and echo cancelation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality

· Gracenote® album cover art database

– Inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience

– Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames

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And a short video showing it as well:

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