New Ford Focus Electric comes with smartphone app

The MyFord Mobile app helps manage charging, finds charging stations

Ford developer Bill Frykman shows off the smartphone app used to control charging and other features on the Ford Focus Electric. (Matt Hamblen/Computerworld) Ford's first all-electric passenger vehicle, the Focus Electric, features 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 CES.

The free app will work on Android, iOS and BlackBerry smartphones, and the car controls can be done from a secure Web site 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, Ford said. Another feature will help users locate electric charging stations on a map from Mapquest displayed on the smartphone. 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.

It took Ford and its partners, including Airbiquity, more than a year to develop the app and its various functions and connectivity, said Bill Frykman, who headed the Ford team.

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The Ford Focus Electric, which comes with its own smartphone app, was on display at CES.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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