The promise of fully electric vehicles is known to both auto makers and environmentalists, but what’s perhaps not as widely noted by consumers is the level of integration they will offer with mobile devices. Ford is finally launching its MyFord Mobile app in Canada, and it provides some insight into what we can expect from the connectivity found in electric cars.
- Available at: Apple App Store (and coming soon to Android and BlackBerry)
- Tested with a 2013 Ford Focus Electric
While some OEM and aftermarket products integrate features like remote start, remote lock, diagnostic check, location tracking and mapping, MyFord Mobile (there’s a Web portal as well) has all of these options available because they’re built in to the car.
The car’s battery level, charging progress when plugged in and distance travelled are all openly displayed after logging in. You could start the car and lock or unlock the doors from the app remotely using 3G or Wi-Fi on the iPhone and the data connection Ford included in the Focus. You can even schedule what time you want the car to charge at to take advantage of time-of-use rates, when the car should start to heat or cool the cabin, and what temperature to set in doing so.
Location tracking is constant, as long as the car is within 3G range, so parking underground can kill that connection. But in the event that the Focus is tampered with or stolen, alerts can be texted or e-mailed to you to let you know.
And the current crop of publicly accessible charging stations in Ford’s database are also plotted on a map powered by MapQuest, though this probably doesn’t account for all of them. The downside is that the app can’t tell you the voltage those stations offer or if they’re occupied or not.
Another omission is that MyFord Mobile and the information derived from the Focus don’t integrate well, if at all, with Sync. For example, charging stations aren’t POIs (points of interest) on Sync’s navigation map, so you would need to manually add its address to a route if you want to stop there along the way. It also can’t automatically set a specific radio station or some other entertainment preset for you.
And despite all the electronics inside, the app’s diagnostic reports are fairly basic. You’ll know the battery life and mileage left, but you won’t know if a fuse is blown or even if you accidentally left the lights on inside (although if the battery slowly trickles down, that might be enough of a red flag).
On the other hand, it measures your acceleration, braking and overall handling, and classes them collectively as either “Zippy” or “Zen,”, which can affect the range you have to drive with and how much electricity you’ve saved. The app even tells you how much gas money you’ve saved and the carbon emissions you kept Mother Nature from absorbing.
As a starting point, there is plenty of upside here, especially since the way the MyFord Mobile portal interacts with electric cars will only improve further.