Ford is going to offer a different method of those of other manufacturers to educate drivers on the autonomy of their Mach-E electric.
© Eric Dupin – Presse-citron
Estimate as precisely as possible the battery life available on an electric car, remains a challenge difficult for the car manufacturers.
Several approaches have seen the light of day as and as technologies continued to evolve, both at the level of the batteries themselves and of their management system and algorithms to display the percentage of energy and/or the mileage yet available.
In fact, manufacturers are faced with a crucial challenge, that of fighting the ” range anxiety “, i.e., in French in the text, this anxiety of remaining battery life which inhabits all drivers of electric cars when they have a long journey to perform, for example, for a departure on vacation. While with a combustion vehicle, the question is never, of the fact that we know that we can refuel in 3 minutes anywhere since the one is never more than a few minutes to a service station (with rare exceptions), the issue is totally different with the electric, which forced the manufacturers to provide the most accurate information possible to the drivers on the distance they can travel up to a next charging.
Problem : this distance can vary tremendously depending on many parameters, such as the outdoor temperature or the weather (rain or dry and / or direction of the wind), the number of persons on board and the luggage weight, the terrain encountered (flat or mountainous), the activated services (air conditioning, heating… ) and of course the driving style. Criteria that also have an impact on the energy consumption of a combustion vehicle, but in proportions much less, when in power, this can practically vary from the simple to the double.
Autonomy : a puzzle, a number of approaches
The manufacturers, therefore, have over time honed their algorithms to present the drivers of the digits of autonomy who want to be closer to the reality, taking into account all these parameters. Some display a single digit in the dashboard, the distance remaining before the next recharge, a bit like a fuel gauge, with the difference that unlike the latter, this number may change downward or upward depending on parameters, positive or negative, while a fuel gauge does go down to the wire of the journey. Other manufacturers offer two figures, one optimistic and the other pessimistic, and it is the driver that will be his choice of scenario.
And then there’s Tesla, which offers a different approach since they are no less than… the 4 digits that are displayed to the view of the driver. First of all, the remaining battery level in accordance with standard EPA (but surprisingly not WLTP, even for the european models to which it is normally the official standard), which appears by default on the dashboard as a gauge of battery of smartphone. This gauge varies only in the fall as a fuel gauge since it only takes account of the kilometres travelled, with the exception of any other criterion. Then, in the on-board computer, Tesla offers 3 other figures with graphs real-time, which are the projections of ultra-accurate battery time remaining based on the data accumulated in 10 -, 25-and 50-the last few kilometres of driving, in instant mode or average (so, that makes 6 figures in fact). This explains, for example, that a Tesla with a range official of 530 kilometers shows more than 700 kilometres remaining, because it simply says to the driver ” if you continue to drive as you do for 25 km you will be able to do 700 km “, except that in reality this never happens because it is just a snapshot for x number of kilometers, except if you’re in the mode ” hypermiling “.
The algorithm of Tesla has the reputation of being the most powerful – and most realistic – particularly thanks to the advance of the californian brand in the collection of user data, but it is sometimes complex to understand and its interface is not simple to use when one is driving. This fineness in the data also leads often to misunderstandings on the part of the owners of Tesla. I’m reading the forums and groups, Tesla, many people have never understood the logic of this approach, or complain about not being able to choose what data you wish to display in place of the gauge by default. Some do not understand, moreover, simply not how does that gauge – which is available in a choice display-km or a percentage, and rely on them to assess the remaining battery life, at the risk of having bad surprises…
In an interview with our colleagues from Electrek, Mark Poll, manager of the user experience for charging at Ford, explained that Ford adopts a different approach to the display of the self on his Mustang Mach-E the output of which is scheduled for the end of the year (or the beginning of 2021 because of the Covid-19). A single digit will be displayed, also takes into account many parameters, including datasets of drivers and consumption as measured in similar conditions, but this figure may change based on significant events occurring during a trip. In this case, a pop-up will appear on the instrument cluster facing driver to inform it that the battery time remaining has been recalculated upward or downward taking into account the event, explaining it, such as for example ” The battery time remaining has been recalculated due to a change of temperature “.
So, Ford intends to finally propose a synthesis bringing together the best of current approaches, in an interface combining simplicity and precision. It will be on exhibit at the first official test of the Mach-E, which should not have to wait too long.