There’s no denying that range anxiety is rooted deep within us. Fortunately Ford plans to tackle that around its all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E with a smarter battery gauge, taking into account factors like traffic and even crowdsourced driving patterns for a more accurate estimate.
The new Intelligent Range feature will debut on the electric crossover, as Ford tackles potential preconceptions that may dissuade possible buyers of the Mustang Mach-E.
As electric car owners will soon discover, however, the reality is that different conditions – whether that be speed of driving, congestion, weather, or other factors – can significantly impact real-world range.
Figuring out just how far an EV will drive in practice can be a challenge, then, and it’s regularly cited as one of the primary factors stopping people from considering electric vehicles. Ford Intelligent Range tackles that by looking at more than just how much charge is left in the battery.
In its first iteration, the system will look at factors like forecast weather conditions – since extremes of hot or cold can negatively impact range – along with past driver behaviour. If you typically drive with a heavy right foot, for example, the Mustang Mach-E will take that into account in the miles remaining figure it presents.
Perhaps most interesting is Ford’s plan to use other Mustang Mach-E cars on the road to make individual drivers’ range estimates more accurate. Assuming they opt in, their data will be collected in the cloud via the car’s embedded 4G LTE modem, and then used to generate a fleet average. Since the crossover’s onboard systems can track power use across different circumstances – including different speed, terrain, and climate conditions – it can better ascertain how much of a difference those real-world factors might have. That’s even if the driver is on a new route and in new conditions their particular car hasn’t encountered before.
Most electric cars with navigation systems can warn the driver when they enter a destination further than the current battery remaining would allow. It’s also fairly common for those EVs to offer a mid-route charging point. Ford plans to go further, with a future over-the-air update adding new talents to the Intelligent Range feature.
At launch, for example, it’ll be able to flash up an explanation on the driver’s digital instrumentation explaining that the range estimate has changed and why. With the update, however, the car will also be able to take into account real-time traffic conditions on a programmed route, along with that route’s terrain and elevation. It’ll even look ahead to the weather conditions at the destination to better predict how battery life will be affected.
The reality is, of course, that even with the best possible estimates of range, some EV drivers will occasionally run out of charge before they reach a plug. For those situations, Ford is promising its Road Assistance program will provide a free tow of the Mustang Mach-E, up to 56km, either to their home, the nearest public charger, or an EV-certified Ford dealership.
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