DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 24, 2011 New Ford Focus owners can learn a thing or two about driving skills that can maximize their miles per gallon and they can have a little fun in the process.  

EcoMode is a handy software application aimed at helping coach customers in the art of eco-driving and then rewards those that practice more fuel-efficient driving skills with in-car kudos displayed on the instrument cluster.

The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode, said Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software. This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.

Eco-driving refers to specific on-road behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In recent internal tests, Ford found that eco-driving skills can improve fuel economy by an average of 24 percent. The nationwide Auto Alliance-supported EcoDriving initiative further claims that if every American put eco-driving skills to work on the road and achieved just a 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved each year.

Practices most often preached within the eco-driving world include: 

  • Using the highest drivable gear
  • Smooth accelerations and decelerations
  • Maintaining constant speeds and anticipating traffic flow 
  • Using cruise control on the highway
  • Avoiding excessive idling
  • Avoiding short trips with a cold engine 

EcoMode generates a personalized driver operation scorecard by monitoring engine rpm, vehicle speed, accelerator position, clutch position, selected gear and engine temperature related to three of these categories:

- Gear shifting (when applicable): Is the driver using the highest drivable gear appropriate for the road conditions

- Anticipation: Is the driver adjusting vehicle speed and distance to other vehicles without the need for heavy braking or acceleration

- Speed: Is the driver using a cruising speed on open roads that enables high fuel efficiency

Within the driver information menu on the instrument cluster, Focus drivers can review their generated score against the software's optimized patterns for each of these disciplines. Scores are displayed using an easy-to-follow five-leaf icon, with two leaves set as the default and five leaves being the maximum achievable score. Performance is cumulative, but the system can be restarted by resetting the average fuel consumption.

Throughout a drive, the scoring system generates hints on how to gain more leaves for each discipline. A driver looking at the advice screen for Anticipation, for example, may see the hint Smooth driving saves fuel displayed on the cluster if he or she is accelerating, decelerating or braking unnecessarily.  In Gear Shifting, driver advice might include Early shifting saves fuel, if the driver is not shifting up as early as possible in conjunction with their acceleration.

Trying to reach the maximum score while in EcoMode leads to a driving style that is optimized for fuel economy, said Schick.

And when drivers do their eco-best, Eco Mode rewards them with on-screen kudos that include championship cup icons and playful titles such as Advanced ECO driver or the top prize of ECO champion.

Committed to eco-driving
Ford has a long-standing commitment to help educate drivers on the usefulness of practicing eco-driving skills. A member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Ford has supported the nationwide eco-driving effort at since 2008, and has also developed an eco-driving module for its popular Driving Skills for Life educational program designed for new drivers.

The new Focus also offers an optional map-based navigation application called Eco-Route available with MyFord Touch, that gives drivers the ability to choose the most fuel-efficient route, versus with the traditional navigation system defaults of fastest and shortest routes.