Pushing the limits of electric car range.

I am into my second week in my Ford Focus Electric (FFE)  and I am finally starting to settle in. The first week was not without it's challenges. The third day I had the car, a mystery light came on that told me to "See manual", the manual told me to "See dealer", the dealer had no clue what the light was, and even with their fancy laptop the could not tell me what they codes meant. Not looking good. Then with no evidence of anything the service manager said "I strongly suspect that its your charging station". Why the name of all that is holy would a service manager go in that direction? If all else fails then blame the customer's equipment. Well I ignored the light, it came on once more, but went away and I have not seen it since.

I also have trouble with the voice dial. Everything else was listening and working fine, navigation, climate, radio, etc. but not phone. None of my contacts seem to respond to voice commands. I re-paired my phone several times to no avail. Finally I called service and they recommended I re-pair the phone. When I told him I had done that he said it would probably need a master-reset. That sounds harsh. He said he was not authorized to walk me thru it but would transfer me with the group that would; the MyFordMobile support team.

First a bit about the MyFordMobile site. When you get your car you register with the website, add a user-name and password and then enter your vin. A message pops up on your cards 8" LCD screen asking if you want to give access to the person with the e-mail address entered in the sign-up. If you click yes, it sends a second confirmation 24 hours later and then you can take full control of the car from the web site. The website lets you monitor the cars charge status, remotely turn on and off the car, toggle the locks on/off, schedule warm-up times so the car is ready and warmed up to drive on your schedule while still plugged in to maximize your range. It also tracks driving habits by individual, showing your how energy efficient you are, rating your use of regenerative breaking, etc. Each key can be registered with a different driver. The car rates your driving style on a scale from Zippy to Zen. I am an off-the-scale zen so far and when I use my key it estimates the range at almost 90 miles, while it only gives my zippy wife 64 miles of ranges when she checks in with her key. Very smart. This is almost like the analytics I mentioned from my ALMS race car, but instead of optimizing for lap times by looking and throttle positions, breaking and gear selection, it is optimizing for batter range, by rating regenerative breaking, use of the accelerator peddle and cruising and wind-efficient speeds.

Well not back to that reset, soon after doing the master reset, I got a text on my phone telling me the car had been removed from my account! What?!?! I had to re-pair my phone, but now everything worked as it should so I was up and running, but what about my week of driving history? Would I have to wait for the 24 hours for the 2nd confirmation before using the car's website again? Well I did have to re-enter the VIN, but once I confirmed, I got all the control back immediately and all my history was restored! That was some good scenario management. I would have liked to have never had to hit reset in the first place, but it was a good experience to have it all come up back on-line without losing a step. That is what you get with a cloud connected car.

So now to the range test. After work last night I decided to run a test. A fiend of mine was very interested in getting a FFE as well, but worried that it would not have the range to climb from Seattle to North Bend, so I decided to put it to the test. Over the charge I logged 57 actual miles going all the way to North Bend up the I90 pass, I had an estimated range of 23 when I pulled into my garage, but at the end of the trip I was covering about 2 miles for every mile of range I was losing so I figured I could have milked a total of 100 miles out of that charge. I used to get crazy when my old car would give me the 50 miles left warning light, so driving an electric is like always driving with the fuel-low warning light on. You are always aware, but on the flipside you can just wave bye-bye each time you pass the gas station.