It’s one thing to buy a hybrid car, but another to understand and know how to use it wisely. Ford has a solution: Ford Motor Company’s Smart Gauge with EcoGuide educates drivers to maximize fuel efficiency on the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids.
The technology uses two digital dashboard LCD screens on either side of the analog speedometer to inform drivers about fuel usage, battery levels and more.
These screens can be tailored to provide four different levels of information for the driver:
- 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/
SmartGauge gives all the basic info like instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, odometer, engine coolant temperature, what gear the car is in and trip data, but it also goes several steps further.
Become a good green driver
There’s a graphic of growing vines and leaves (efficiency leaves) on the right side to prompt drivers for good driving habits by displaying a heavily stylized greenery for good behavior. If you drive efficiently, the vines and leaves will grow lush. When you reach a destination, a shut-down screen will also give you stats on your latest trip, and you can call up historical fuel efficiency data via a chart.
A tutorial mode built into the display that helps the driver learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid.
Extensive customer research was completed to ensure the instrument cluster is as driver-friendly as possible. Prototype testing was done in Ford’s Virtual simulator, the industry’s largest driver distraction laboratory operated by an automaker.
Fuel efficiency of the auto hasn’t really changed since 1963 but maybe driver habits will. And who knows, it may be an Israeli company that offers a real change to the automotive industry.