Tweaking Software to Increase MPG ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Tweaking Software to Increase MPG

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tweaking Software to Increase MPG

Ford and the University of Michigan are working together to tweak software in Ford hybrids to increase fuel efficiency. The team is taking data from 2,5000 road trips. Using the data, they have run nearly 1 million design simulations so far - nearly 50,000 a week.

“The Ford Fusion Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan available, and its performance is second to none. Our work with U of M is helping us develop the next generation of Ford hybrids and bring them to market even faster,” said Ryan McGee, supervisor of Vehicle Controls Architecture and Algorithm Design in Ford’s Research and Advanced Engineering.

By working through the simulations, Ford is hoping to build up hybrid controls in which they can increase fuel efficiency, 'drivability', or both.

The research is still in its early research stages, but initial results are promising.

"Working together with the University of Michigan research team, we are testing the boundaries of hybrid vehicle technology, exploring innovative ways to raise the bar on fuel economy and drivability," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, chief technical officer, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "This joint work on hybrid software development shows great promise in helping us lead the development of more efficient hybrid systems for the future."

As a reuters article based on the press release points out, hypermilers have been doing this for a long time now. By driving differently, maximizing fuel efficiency in all driving situations, testing, and re-testing, hypermilers work to exceed the EPA fuel ratings every day.

In some hybrids now, you're going to see 'econ' buttons that do just this, tweak the software controls to emphasize either fuel efficiency or 'drivability.'

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