By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Design
Ford unveils the Evos concept car, a plug-in hybrid vehicle designed with cloud-based intelligence that can automatically adapt performance to individual drivers and road conditions.
American automaker Ford on Tuesday unveiled its Evos concept car, a plug-in hybrid vehicle that it says represents the design direction of its entire global fleet. (And a new direction it is: it's a fastback-style model with gullwing doors and a trapezoidal grille.)
The vehicle intends to be a showcase for intuitive in-car tech, from the Microsoft-based Sync and MyFordTouch telematics systems to its hybrid electric powertrain, that will appear in future Ford vehicles.
Simply, it's the next step in a smarter car: situational adaptation.
Which includes features such as:
- Seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the driver's "personal cloud‟ of information, from home to office to car.
- That information includes the driver's work schedule, local traffic or weather conditions and other pertinent information to a trip.
- The car can therefore detect and "know" the driver and automatically adapt handling, steering, suspension and powertrain systems to the person's habits or to the immediate road ahead.
- It can monitor the physical state and workload of the driver and adjust the driving experience accordingly.
- It can automatically play the same music or news program that was just streaming at home.
- It can heat or cool the interior to an ideal temperature before the driver gets in, using a predicted departure time, rather than an explicit request.
- Wireless communication abilities allow the car to close the garage door and switch off the lights automatically as it pulls away.
- The car's cloud-based abilities can offer driving recommendations via social media networks and even reset your alarm clock if a morning meeting is cancelled.
- A heart-rate monitoring seat, allergy-free interiors, location-aware air quality sensors, filtration systems and a situationally-aware instrument panel (displays only necessary gauge information) round out the brainpower.
- Underneath the hood, a lithium-ion plug-in hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Ford C-Max Energi makes it happen. (Why hybrid and not all-electric? So it can achieve a range of 500 miles.)
It's all about the transition, ensuring that the car isn't a technological black hole -- nor a new platform to master. It's also all about stepping toward autonomy -- letting the vehicle judge what's best for it, rather than the default factory settings.
Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation, likened the vehicle to a "personal assistant." (The PDA, reincarnated as a 3,000-lb. machine?)
"We see technology as more than just an impressive list of microprocessors, sensors and software," Mascarenas said in a statement. "It's about the application of that technology to create an experience that enhances the driver's time behind the wheel.”
Or, succinctly: context.
Aug 30, 2011
However, it seems that every time they come up with a great concept, they manage to royally screw it up. Ok, I admit that's a personal opinion, but what happened to the Ford Probe? What happened to the Ford GT? Both were extraordinary racing designs that consistently won races in their classes. The GT? It took three tries to build and sell a street legal version and the most current version is priced $30,000 higher than it's only US Competitor, the Corvette. The Probe? Quite honestly the street version looked almost nothing like the racer and died after only 3 years on the market. Both were great-looking cars. Even today's Mustang is a great looking car, but based on first-hand conversations I've had with owners, the reliability is seriously lacking. Do I really want to trust my life to Ford-designed vehicle management? Don't get me wrong--the concept itself is great. The EVOS itself looks great. It really makes me want to buy one and I will be in the market before the end of next year; but will this Ford live up to the brand's automotive reputation? I've owned two Ford cars and one couldn't pull itself up a hill with a big V8 under the hood and the other, while having all kinds of power, couldn't keep attached components like alternator, AC compressor, water pump, timing chain or anything else attached to the engine operating for any length of time. I spent so much time and money replacing external components that I effectively had a new engine every year. I never had such poor service from any other brand I've owned, be it Plymoth, Jeep, Chevy, Olds or Buick. Even my Mitsubishi pickup was more reliable. Yes, I really believe technology like this is a good idea. Volvo, in some ways, is already proving it with their auto-braking feature and I believe Mercedes, too, has similar capability. My question is with Ford's quality, not their concepts.