Ford's new Focus Electric to have companion iOS app

Ford developer Bill Frykman shows off the smartphone app used to control charging and other features on the Ford Focus Electric. (Matt Hamblen/Computerworld)

When released, Ford’s first all-electric passenger vehicle, the Focus Electric, will feature a smartphone app that can help drivers keep track of when the car is being charged remotely. Other features in the MyFord Mobile app allow a driver to remotely turn on the air conditioning on a hot day (with power from the car’s lithium ion battery) just minutes before getting inside, Ford officials said at this year's International Consumer Electronics trade show.

It took Ford and its partners, including Airbiquity, more than a year to develop the free app and its various functions and connectivity, according to Bill Frykman, who headed the Ford team. It will work on Android, iOS and BlackBerry smartphones; the car controls can also be operated from a secure website via desktop computer as well. The smartphone communicates with a wireless module inside the car over the AT&T wireless network.

One of the app’s charging management features, created by Microsoft, will allow a driver to remotely set when the car is charging, so that drivers can take advantage of lower energy costs at certain hours of the day. Another feature will help users locate electric charging stations on a map from MapQuest. Yet another feature advises a driver whether his or her acceleration is quick (“zippy”) or slow (“zen”), which will affect how quickly the battery is drained.

Although the Focus Electric, which seats five people, isn’t on sale yet, it will sell for $39,995 when it arrives, Ford officials said. A single charge with a 240-amp connection takes about three hours, and offers 70 to 100 miles of driving.

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