Ford, a company known for big trucks and muscle cars, has ambitious plans for several upcoming zero-emission vehicle fleet launches--including the Transit Connect Electric, in North America in late 2010 and in Europe in 2011, and the Focus Electric passenger car in North America in 2011 and Europe in 2012.
In an effort to make the new electric fleets more efficient, the company today said it is using the Internet and wireless technology to test advanced lithium ion battery systems, collect real-time performance data and make software updates.
Engineers use two monitoring methods to collect data from batteries in the lab and in the field via a secure Internet server, and wirelessly update system software. These methods have reduced test-fleet downtime and allowed Ford to more than double its battery lab-testing capability, the company said in a news release.
Ford researchers are conducting rigorous lifecycle tests of new lithium ion battery systems to evaluate the technology's ability to recharge under a broad range of environmental conditions, including state of charge (from empty to full), battery age (from new to old) and environmental temperatures (from freezing cold to scorching hot). As engineers learn how lithium ion's material properties perform under extreme conditions, they can better create control algorithms that will assist in charging the batteries without decreasing the life if the batteries.
"Remote monitoring allows us to access real-time data and make continuous improvements very quickly," said Sherif Marakby, Ford director, Electrification Program and Engineering. "This degree of efficiency would have been unthinkable a few years ago and will help Ford bring more fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles to market more quickly than ever before."