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Gauging energy use: the Ford SmartGauge

Hybrid cars have been a source for some innovation related to the visualization of energy use in cars. Ford’s 2010 Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids are no exception, as they come equipped with “Ford’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide,” the result of a collaboration between Ford and world renowned design and innovation firm, IDEO.

The analog speedometer is bookended by two, high-resolution, full-color LCD screens which  deliver varying levels of information, such as fuel and battery-power levels, average and instant miles-per-gallon and driver efficiency.  The whole package seems to act as something of a “better driving” coach, whereby the driver has a choice of the nature of the coach. There are four data screens (Inform, Enlighten, Engage, and Empower), each with additional information available to the driver.  To make sure that the driver understands the system, a tutorial is part of the design.

The gauge is described in the video below – the speaker addresses the “efficiency view” starting at about 3m10s.

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