Las Vegas - Ford will add new capabilities to its MyFord Touch Powered by Sync infotainment system in the upcoming Ford Focus Electric, Ford executives revealed during a keynote speech.
The company will also upgrade its MyFord smartphone app for the Focus Electric, enabling such features as controlling control charging functions via cellular and viewing charging-system information, joining such features as remote starting and door locking.
Ford president/CEO Alan Mulally kicked off the keynote, sharing the stage with the Focus Electric, the company's first all-electric passenger vehicle targeted for fourth-quarter availability. Consumers, he said, "are ready to embrace the reality" of limited range in exchange for consuming no gasoline.
Mulally left it to other Ford managers to outline the company's electric-vehicle plans, compare the Focus Electric to competitors' all-electric vehicles, and explain how the MyFord Touch/Sync entertainment, information and user-interface system will improve the experience of owning an electric vehicle.
Amy Garber, manager of electric-vehicle electronics, pointed out that the vehicle's various in-dash displays will show miles left on a charge, analyze driving habits to recommend ways to maximize driving range, and display available range on a navigation map using concentric circles.
Using a MyFord Mobile smartphone app for the Focus Electric, said product development manager Ed Pleet, owners will connect to the vehicle's onboard cellular modem to remotely view remaining charge, view driving range on the remaining charge based on previous driving habits, turn charging on and off, view battery-diagnostic information, and send the location of a charging station to the vehicle's navigation system. Like the existing MyFord app, the Focus Electric app will remotely start the vehicle, lock and unlock doors, and warm up the vehicle while charging by using electricity from the power grid.
Ford executives also announced that Best Buy will be Ford's exclusive partner to sell and install the $1,499 charging stations that will charge the Ford Focus Electric in 3.1 hours, or half the time that other automakers' charging stations take, when plugged into a 240-volt line. Unlike other automaker's charging stations, this one doesn't have to be hard-wired into a home's electrical system, making it easier to move to another house if the owner moves.
Ford will also soon offer its first free software upgrade for the new My Ford Touch Powered by Sync and MyLincoln Touch Powered by Sync systems. Their USBs ports will be upgraded to work with cellular CDMA USB modems, which would work with the vehicles' embedded Wi-Fi to turn the cars into a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. The vehicles already accept GSM/HSPA-network USB modems.
Finally, Ford said it will bring five more electric vehicles to the U.S. by 2012.