New High-Tech Ford Hybrid Instrument Cluster 'Rewards' You for Efficient Driving

Ford Fusion Milan hybrid instruments photo

MPG Feedback to Help You Save Gas
We've said it often, when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint, knowledge is power. If you could find a nice big screen in every living room with information about how much water and electricity were used in the past week, and how much all of that costs, most people would use that feedback to become more efficient. It's the same thing with hybrid cars and their LCDs with MPG information; the feedback makes people better drivers.

So it's a good thing that automakers are looking for new ways to keep drivers informed of fuel economy. Nissan has the ECO Pedal with tactile feedback, and now Ford has a new instrument cluster, the SmartGauge with EcoGuide, in its Fusion and Milan Hybrids. Read on for more details.

Ford Fusion Milan hybrid instruments photo

SmartGauge with EcoGuide
So what's special about this instrument cluster? First, you get two relatively high-resolution color LCDs on each side of the analog speedometer. They can be configured to show more or less details. It's kind of like a video game with different levels of difficulty, from easy to hard.

Ford calls these levels:

  • Inform: Fuel level and battery charge status
  • Enlighten: Adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer
  • Engage: Adds engine output power and battery output power
  • Empower: Adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption

The first picture in this post is the "Engage" level, and the second is "Empower".

A Reward System for Fuel Efficiency
The really clever part though is the 'reward' system:

Long-term fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways—either as a traditional chart or using an innovative display that shows "growing leaves and vines" on the right side of the cluster. The more efficient a customer is, the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines, creating a visual reward for the driver's efforts.

I'm not convinced that it's quite there yet, but the seed of the idea is planted and I'm sure that in the next few years new ways to 'reward' good driving will be devised, in the same way that certain games keep track of players' experience.

Some people will never care about this, but others - wanting to save money or be greener - will certainly enjoy playing this game with themselves, just like many more hybrid car drivers track their average MPG than people in cars without obvious MPG feedback.

Via Green Car Congress
Hybrid Cars
GM Volt Plug-In Hybrid to use Batteries by LG Chem
2009 Fuel Economy Guide: Toyota Prius First, Lamborghini Murciélago Last
Photos of New 2010 Prius Hybrid Leaked, Confirmed by Toyota
ECO Pedal by Nissan: Tactile Feedback in Gas Pedal to Help you Save Gas

Related Content on