Back at CES, Ford announced a mobile app to help electric vehicle owners find charging stations and monitor their range. Last week, we got a chance to check out MyFord Mobile in person running on a Windows Phone.
The home screen shows a simple charge gauge showing how much juice is left in your EV, along with where it is. The app will also display how much cash you’ve saved on gas, as well as the amount of CO2 emissions you’ve prevented by driving an electric vehicle. There are some standard remote control features built in that you would expect, like setting your charging schedule, preheating your car, and unlocking the doors.
Range can be a bit of an issue with these kinds of cars, but Ford is working with MapQuest to provide a comprehensive listing of charging stations. Of course MapQuest already has plenty of POI data, so you can also use the app to search for destinations like restaurants or stores, and see if you can get there and back on your current charge. It’ll even give you tips based on weather when applicable. Once you’ve found your destination, you can beam the turn-by-turn directions right to the car. Individual cars can be monitored by multiple drivers, and specific profiles are generated for each one.
The app figures out what kind of style of driver you are (such as Zippy or Zen), and uses that as a basis for range estimates. All of that is very useful and all, but I’d say the coolest part of MyFord Mobile is the social element. There’s an Xbox-style achievement system baked in, so you can share your particular eco-goals with friends over Facebook and Twitter.
The only other mobile app in the EV sphere that I know of is the Chevrolet Volt’s, which will offer similar mileage monitoring and remote control options. For me, the clincher between the two is how they plug in to third-party smartphone apps. Ford is trying hard to build an ecosystem that’s friendly to current smartphone developers, which I haven’t seen in Chevrolet so far. The problem is, it’s taking awhile for those smartphone apps to go live, but I suspect that’s because there are distraction and safety standards that Ford has to continue to abide by, which can slow down the approval process.
MyFord Mobile will be launching later this year as a free bonus to Focus Electric owners, and will be available on all major OSes, including Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. There will even be a limited HTML5 version available for those packing something else. To get a closer look, you can see a few screencaps at Ford’s EV site.