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Old 11-02-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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A Look Into Ford's Green Tecnology.

It is very cool what this company is doing.

Ford's Green Goddess Grows Leaves

Quote:
Ford's Green Goddess Grows Leaves
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Moves Into The Future
Posted: Oct, 29 2009

Late last year, we were among the first to drive the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Introduced at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Fusion model was a Howitzer shell across Toyota's bow. Even though Toyota is the now the world's largest auto manufacturer, Detroit is far from dead when it comes to making cars. The crisply styled Fusion convincingly beat the Camry Hybrid's mileage by 8 mpg in the city and another 2 mpg on the highway.

The Ford's documented high quality also helped to quiet voices in Washington, D.C. There, pontificators arrogantly proclaimed that no Detroit auto company possessed the talent or foresight to engineer a functioning Kleenex box, let alone a world-class, fuel-sipping hybrid sedan. How wrong they proved to be.

In addition to the Fusion Hybrids mileage of 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, one of this Ford's most interesting technical features is its instrument cluster. The automotive world has never seen anything like its full-color, driver-configurable LCD display in a production car. It's actually designed to make drivers more fuel efficient.

In addition to providing expected instruments like the speedometer and fuel gauge, the Fusion's SmartGauge cluster provides multiple gauge configurations, each presenting its own level of detailed information. Depending on what the driver wants to see, the display can be simple, or provide sophisticated information about the hybrid powertrain's operation and frugality. Several modes offer graphics that actually coach a driver to achieve greater efficiency. Ford calls the coaching "EcoGuide" and the special gauge their "SmartGauge."

Watch It Grow
What you'll see when you look through the steering wheel is a set of green leaves. The "Efficiency Leaves" are a graphical indication of a pilot's driving style; more leaves mean greener, more efficient driving. Rapid acceleration and hard braking cause leaves to drop from the vines. Leaves grow when the driver accelerates gently, coasts, and brakes smoothly to help recharge the hybrid's batteries.

"A child sitting in the back seat can recognize efficient driving techniques just by watching the leaves grow," said Sonya Nematollahi, the Fusion's Driver Information Senior Engineer. She led the development of the SmartGauge project from start to finish.

"Right from the start of the Fusion Hybrid project, we knew we didn't want a simple, boring display of numbers or a bar graphs," Nematollahi said. "We wanted to create a display that provided an emotional connection between the car and driver, and even between the car and its passengers."

The SmartGauge offers four general display levels using the two high-resolution LCD monitors on either side of the analog speedometer:

• Inform: Fuel level and battery charge status
• Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer
• Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power
• Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold, and accessory power consumption

Each display level is customizable to show instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, odometer, engine coolant temperature, what gear the car is in and trip data, including trip fuel economy, long-term fuel economy and miles to empty.

"SmartGauge is quite different from anything else that's out there," Nematollahi said. "Even though the new Toyota Prius and Honda Insight came out after the Fusion, their clusters aren't anything like ours regarding looks or performance. SmartGauge really coaches the driver."

True to Nematollahi's description, the 2010 hybrids from Toyota and Honda use simpler graphics to track mileage and efficiency.

"We wanted to offer different ways to display the information so that drivers can take in the data in a way that fits them," she said. "If they're feeling more emotive, they can watch the Efficiency Leaves grow. If they're felling more technical, there is a bar graph that displays the same kind of information."

Ford leaned on the expertise of numerous experts in design to help come up with display, including Smart Design and IDEO.

"We developed the SmartGauge with several different suppliers and many groups within Ford, so we had literally hundreds of ideas on what the gauges should look like," she said. "It took months to settle on what you see. The idea of 'green' going with leaves was always something we wanted to do, but then we handed the idea over to one of our designers, and then it came to life."

Ford's process wasn't without its hiccups, however.

"We had some ideas that we thought were great, but when tested didn't work," she said. Nematollahi explained how the an early version of the Hybrid's current three-dimensional fuel gauge looked as if it were filled with had liquid.

"The moving fluid slowly sloshing around in that gauge made people motion sick," she said. "So, we dropped that idea."

An Engineer Unlike The Others
A career engineer at Ford, Nematollahi told us that she came to the U.S. when her family fled Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution.

"We moved to the U.S. in 1978, just before everything collapsed," Nematollahi said. "I was just in high school when we left the country and everything we owned behind. This was so hard for my father because he was a successful civil engineer. We came here with nothing."

Even though her father wanted her to become a doctor or a lawyer, she always knew she wanted to be an engineer. Her dreams were realized after she completed her undergraduate work at The University of Toledo (Ohio) and graduate studies at Wayne State University (Michigan). Nematollahi started with Ford as an intern and never looked back.

Upgrades Will Be Easy
"Because the LCD displays are just like high-end computer monitors, what we show on them is controlled by software, so it's totally upgradeable," she said. "If we come up with new ideas for gauges, or if customers tell us that they want something different, we can upload a new gauge package with a simple reflash."

Like other automakers, Ford has discovered that with instant fuel economy information at their fingertips, drivers can learn to drive more efficiently. SmartGauge with EcoGuide helps speed the process, and that is exactly what Nematollahi and her team were hoping to do.

To see SmartGauge in action, visit a Ford or Lincoln-Mercury dealership. The Fusion and Milan Hybrids both feature the SmartGauge, and each car includes two demonstration modes. The dealer demo provides a quick overview of the cluster's benefits to prospective buyers, while the owner tutorial mode delivers a more in-depth look at its features and functions. The Fusion Milan Hybrids are the first production cars to have "self-help" capability built into the cluster.
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Old 11-02-2009, 01:07 PM   #2
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Re: A Look Into Ford's Green Tecnology.

That is really incredible.

Ford is hands-down my favorite American car manufacturer and is seriously becoming a world-class competitor.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:17 PM   #3
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Re: A Look Into Ford's Green Tecnology.

ford is on the ball. reason being - they are predicting the market and staying competitive. they are not trying to FORCE the market.

adaptability survives. those who do not change with the market, fade away.

way to go ford.
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Old 11-11-2009, 02:22 AM   #4
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Re: A Look Into Ford's Green Tecnology.

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Originally Posted by wiarumas View Post
ford is on the ball. reason being - they are predicting the market and staying competitive. they are not trying to FORCE the market.

adaptability survives. those who do not change with the market, fade away.

way to go ford.
I have a news story for that too!
Quote:
5 Reasons Ford Bounced Back
By Benjamin F. Carlson on November 02, 2009 11:23am

5 Reasons Ford Bounced Back

Once seen as humble, sturdy, and somewhat stodgy, Ford is now the automaker everyone has agreed to love. On Monday it posted $997 million in profit, snapping a four year dry streak. This comes shortly after the United Autoworkers rejected a cost-cutting move--a blow to Ford's future competitiveness. Even analysts who adore the automaker were surprised, as many expected them to clock in this quarter with a loss.

How did Ford do it? Conservatives cite Ford's resistance to government money, and believe consumers share their view. Cash for Clunkers undoubtedly lifted sales, but the Detroit automaker also boasts high satisfaction results and social media savvy. Ford's $26 billion private debt is niggling worry for the boosters, as is its failure to trim costs as much as its government-backed rivals.

* Self Sufficiency, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "While GM and Chrysler struggle, Ford has built a new reputation for independence and competence. The efforts of its management to steer a course away from taxpayer bailouts has generated a lot of goodwill -- perhaps not in Detroit itself or with the unions, but with consumers angry at the corporate welfare policies of this administration and its predecessor. That goodwill will translate to better sales, assuming that Ford can overcome its competitive disadvantage on labor costs, an effort that will officially fail this week on their first attempt...Ford has found a formula for success: self-sufficiency, or at least enough of it to differentiate themselves from their domestic competition."

* Cash for Clunkers, writes Forbes analyst Steve Schaefer. "Cash For Clunkers helps automaker earn 26 cents a share...Ford said it earned $1 billion in the July-September period, but did not break out the contribution of the Cash For Clunkers program, which borrowed demand from future quarters as buyers were enticed to dealerships with incentives funded by the federal government."

* Solid Vehicles, suggests Nick Bunkley in his report for the New York Times. "Ford has been having more success than its cross-town rivals at attracting customers, and its newest vehicles are winning commendations from third-party sources like the magazine Consumer Reports, which last week declared Ford's quality to be 'as dependable -- or better than -- some of the industry's best.'"

* Cutting Costs--But Not Enough, writes Dee-Ann Durbin in an AP analysis. "Ford workers agreed to $500 million in concessions earlier this year, while workers at GM and Chrysler approved concessions that saved their companies more than $1 billion each...Ford workers have overwhelmingly rejected contract changes that would have allowed the automaker to cut labor costs, leaving Ford at a disadvantage to its Detroit rivals as it continues its struggle to return to profitability."

* Social Media, suggests Rachel Sklar at Mediaite. "Ford's big push has been its "Fiesta Movement" for a car that isn't even available yet (a good indication of successful penetration is me having actually heard of the Ford Fiesta, and thinking it was already out)...It is, of course, hard to know whether a giant marketing push for a car that isn't even available yet has translated into customers plunking down their hard-earned (and scarce!) cash for a Ford-made vehicle. Certainly Ford has been making a lot of noise in social media -- and getting a LOT of press for it."
Source: 5 Reasons Ford Bounced Back | The Atlantic Wire
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