Ford: 60 Percent of Plug-in Hybrid Trips are "Gas-Free"
July 31, 2013 8:23 AM
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Ford gathers data from the MyFord Mobile app
Ford is looking to pour ice-cold water all over Toyota’s hybrid hot streak and is making some
very good progress with its current lineup
. The Fusion Hybrid and C-Max are both rated at 47 mpg EPA combined (however, those numbers are
highly suspect in real-world testing
). But more importantly, both vehicles look more like traditional vehicles instead of wind tunnel-sculpted tadpoles on wheels.
Ford is stepping up its efforts even with further with the “Energi” plug-in versions of those aforementioned hybrids. Both the
can travel 21 miles on battery power alone before falling back on the 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine. Using data gathered from its
MyFord Mobile App
(available for the Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi, and Focus Electric), Ford has been able to determine just how customers are using their new plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Ford was able to determine that nearly 60 percent of the trips that drivers make are gas-free (the figure stood at 41 percent earlier in the year). As drivers become more familiar with their vehicles, how far they can travel on battery-only power, and learn where charging stations are located, the "gas-free" percentages start to creep even higher.
“The daily percent driven in electric mode continues to inch upward, suggesting drivers are using the information provided by MyFord Mobile to change how they drive and really get the most out of their vehicles,” says Joe Rork, project manager for MyFord Mobile.
Other data gathered from the MyFord Mobile App shows that the average charge time for a Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi is 185 minutes, and that most drivers search for charging stations between noon and 2 p.m. Not surprisingly, the most actively searched areas for charging stations include “green hotbeds” like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and the northeast corridor.
Ford hopes to use the wealth of data that it gathers to help improve the functionality of both the MyFord Mobile app and the next generation of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
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7/31/2013 12:20:28 PM
Here is the problem. By the advertised fuel economy, the non-hybrid comes out at 31.6 for city/hwy ratio of 20/80. The hybrid always comes out at 47 MPG, since it is listed as 47 city and 47 hwy. Only, the real measurement shows it at 37.4, almost 10 MPG less than advertised. The non-hybrid will be lower in the real world too, but not by 10 MPG! More like 4. So instead of a 16 MPG advantage, it is more like 10. Instead of 3.5 years to break even, it will be more like 6.
My wife is in the same boat, having to drive 40k miles per year. As far as I can see, it's a wash, so why bother? Just more parts to break. I find it hard to believe it wouldn't cost a lot more in the long run due to increased maintenance cost, especially the expensive battery.
7/31/2013 12:47:01 PM
Interestingly, my vehicle is rated (in mpg) for 18 city, 26 highway, 21 combined. I average 25.7 over the last 5 years if I exclude trips. I manage to get something like 31 during trips. No, I don't hypermile or whatever you call it. All I do is get up early to avoid some of the traffic and pay enough attention to what's going on around me that I'm not riding the breaks like about 70% of the traffic in the city. I rented a hybrid car for a week when I was on a business trip and never got above 39 MPG. I'm not saying I wouldn't notice a difference between the two, but I'm even more skeptical than you about the actual vs rated MPG of hybrids.
7/31/2013 2:09:17 PM
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are solely that of my own and are not representative of Ford Motor Company or its affiliates.
My ACTUAL average right now is 37.4 mpg. But that's combined city/hwy over 8700 miles.
My 2003 Cavalier was averaging around 27 mpg. (Same runs/trips/commute).
My old 1998 Pontiac Grand Am was averaging around 24 mpg.
The ACTUAL posted average on both fuelly.com and fueleconomy.gov is actually sitting at ~40 mpg (39.7 on fueleconomy.gov and 41.1 on fuelly.com for 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrids), so I'm actually running at slightly below average.
That means that the average of all 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid owners is actually between 5.9 to 7.3 mpg less, NOT 10 mpg less (except for me).
Despite that, when I did my original analysis, I did it with the 47 mpg average combined number. Obviously, once I bought it and I was able to get my actual data from real-world usage, I was able to re-run the analysis and that's how I came up with the 3.5 years payoff period.
If your wife does 40k miles/year with 80% city, chances are, she'd be able to blow past me in fuel economy numbers. If your wife does 40k miles/year with 80% highway, and depending on the options that she puts of the vehicle (because it affects the weight, which is one of the reasons why I am not able to get an average combined as good as everybody else), then she might be able to more realistically expect to see numbers closer to what I'm getting.
And I can't really "hypermile" (it's not even hypermiling, it's just driving economically to maximize my savings potential) because in and around Southeast Michigan/Detroit area, it's too dangerous for me to try that. We have CITY streets where the nominal cruising is 50-65 mph. The nominal highway is closer to 80 mph (although THAT I do stay at 69 mph (110 km/h) and keep to the far right lane (though with the software upgrade, I might not have to do that anymore).
But in and around Toronto though, where there's more traffic, which puts downward pressure on the highest nominal cruising speed (both city and highway), I was able to reap the benefits of the hybrid system more. (Same thing when I was driving around Alexandria/Washington, D.C./Baltimore on I-295 at 10 PM on a Saturday night between the construction and the traffic).
If you're getting a new car anyways, then it's worth doing the analysis for. But if you already have a car that works and it works just fine, then while I wouldn't say "no" to shopping around and doing your research, it might not be worth it (at least for purely fuel economy reasons if your other car is completely paid off).
I will add one caveat though - well two. 1) My insurance actually DROPPED switching from a 2003 Cavalier to the Fusion Titanium Hybrid. 2) The Fusion is a MUCH safer car (it actually got an "acceptable" rating on the small overlap crash test from IIHS, which BTW, the Camry (which is very similiar in architecture to the Avalon) got a "poor" rating on).
So while this discussion has been largely focused on the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in purely fuel economy terms, there are other considerations that is not captured in here that helps makes the car a win. (And I'm not just saying that cuz I work for Ford, I actually spent about 8 months researching the car, and comparing it against the entire competitive field before settling down on the Fusion.) THOSE details won't be captured in a fuel economy CBA.
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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