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Wednesday
May052010

Dead bodies and hippie chicks

If you have a sense of humor about hippie chicks and dead bodies, head on over to the

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Racer Boy Review

for a great review of the FFH.

And remember to hit up the "Like" button over on the right if you like this blog.

Wednesday
Apr282010

Running at 0 mpg

I got home the other night and sat in the car listening to a blog I was playing from my Blackberry (via Bluetooth to MS Sync) for a few minutes. Usually I always turn off the car as soon as I get home, even if I'm going to sit and listen to something for awhile longer.  The car was silent and I must have spaced out because I forgot to turn the car off, even after I had finished listening, and went into the house.   This was at 5pm.

Seven hours later, at 12 midnight, as I was going to bed, I heard my car running outside the window.  I looked and there she was, humming along with the headlights on!  If you leave the car on in Park for a long time it will periodically run the engine to keep the battery charged.

I ran downstairs to turn the car off. When I had gotten home earlier the "tank" average miles per gallon was 43.7 mpg. Amazingly, after running for seven hours straight, the average was only down to 39.7 mpg. I figured out that the car had burned about a half a gallon of gas while it was sitting in my driveway. Not too bad for being on for seven hours!

By the way, I use PodTrapper for Blackberry which is absolutely the best podcast player for BlackBerry!

Wednesday
Apr282010

New "Like" button

If you like my blog, please click the Facebook "Like" button over in the right column of this page.  This will let your Facebook friends know that this blog is worth a look!

Wednesday
Apr212010

EV mode stops working

I went to lunch today (2-3 miles from work) and EV mode would not go on even at stoplights.  I even tried turning the car off and on but no luck.  The engine was on the whole time, although at lights it would go into a kind of hibernation where it was on but not doing anything according to the HEV display.  The battery was charged to the max.

The same thing happened on the way back from lunch.  Finally, just as I arrived back at work EV mode started working again.  I wonder if this is what Ford meant in the manual when they wrote on page 7:

Your hybrid high voltage battery may periodically re-condition itself to ensure maximum efficiency.  You may notice slight changes in drivability during this process, but it's an important part of your hybrid's high voltage battery opitmization features.

My great gas mileage of 44.5 for this tank is now 43 :-(

Wednesday
Apr072010

Improved MPG from my Ford Fusion Hybrid

Spring has sprung here in the mid-Atlantic area and it is really helping my mileage figures.  During the winter I went as low as 29-30 mpg, but in the 60-80 degree weather we've had recently my mileage has improved drastically.  In fact, its better than ever. 

Yesterday I set a new record on the way home, which is mostly a 7 mile slog uphill from King of Prussia to Route 30, (the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental highway).  Previously my best was 45.5 mpg on Aug 7, 2009.  Yesterday I got 47.8 mpg.

Today, I set a new record on the way to work.  My previous best was 60.4 mpg on July 6, 2009.  Today I got 61.1!

The funny thing is, I'm not even trying that hard. I guess its true when they say that after awhile the mileage gets better - I've got over 7000 miles on my FFH now. The battery seems to be in a high state of charge more often.

Also, my ability to drive for high mpgs has become second nature.  One thing I do now is try to minimize the gas-guzzling moves, keeping the instantaneous mpg indicator above 20mph if possible. I will also minimize battery draw-down situations (going over a hill in EV mode for instance) by applying a little internal combustion engine boost.

Is anyone else experiencing improved MPGs?

Friday
Feb262010

Navigation without GPS

One thing I love about the nav unit in my Ford Fusion Hybrid is its ability to function without a GPS signal.  Sometimes in the morning it takes a few minutes to acquire the GPS satellites.  The nav unit still tracks the car's progress on the map!  I guess that its matching up speed, steering direction, and road data to determine where you are on the map.

This is particularly striking in a parking garage, where you can watch the car go around and around up the ramps with no GPS available.

Thursday
Feb252010

Dashboard reset

The other day when I fired up my Ford Fusion Hybrid, I found that the dashboard displays had reverted to their default level of information and that the long term total MPG counter had reset to 0.  I've heard of this happening to others but it had never happened to me before.  I have about 6500 miles on the car.  Could it be mileage related?

Has this happened to you?

Thursday
Feb112010

A Winter's Day

The winter weather in the mid-Atlantic this winter has been brutal!  Yesterday and the day before we were treated to a heavy (12") snowstorm, on top of one the week before.  That one dumped 18" but this latest snow was heavier and I think there was actually more of it even though it was only 12". 

Normally I would connect to my work computer from home and not bother to go into work on a day like today, but I needed to bring my work computer out of standby - there was a power failure at work during the storm.  The snowplow came early to my house, and I decided to plow ahead to work. 

The roads are usually cleared up pretty quickly around here (we're used to snow) but not today.  I had tried my FFH in snow before and it's not nearly as competent and fun in snow as my former car, an Audi A6 Quattro.  It's no BMW X5 either - during the last snowstorm, the 18" one, I was able to drive my wife's X5 out the driveway when it wasn't plowed!

Yet I was pleasantly surprised at how well my FFH handled the snow with its front wheel drive.  Much better than I expected.  I never felt in danger although I took it slow in places.  I even managed to snap this picture through the windshield with my new BlackBerry Storm 2:

When I got to work I was the only one there.  I brought my computer out of standby, but there was no network connectivity - the data center was still recovering.  I'd have been better off staying at home!

Friday
Feb052010

Regenerative braking glitch

Ford has instituted a "customer satisfaction program" for people experiencing a softness in the regenerative braking of the Ford Fusion Hybrid.  Apparently one Consumer reports driver ran a stop sign when the regenerative braking switched unnecessarily to conventional braking.  The brakes were working but required more pressure to engage them.

Cars that are affected were built before Oct 17, 2009.  A software update to fix this will be available at Ford dealers.  See this article for details.

Have any of you experienced this?  I have not.

Friday
Jan012010

New features coming to Sync?

This article describes a new open programming interface for Sync that will allow really cool things to happen!  Someday soon you may be able to run applications on your mobile phone that interact with Sync's user interface (including voice control), and with the Internet.

It will be very exciting if this pans out, and also if (and this is a big if) the new API will work on 2010 and earlier versions of the Sync hardware.  The article mentions there will be a Sync announcement at CES on Jan 7, 2010 - perhaps we will know then.

The article also mentions a $395 option that will be offered via Sync for in-car WIFI so your fellow travelers can access the Internet through a cellular data card.  This is not that exciting when you consider that this requires an additional data plan for the data card on top of what your mobile phone may already have.  In any case, there's a cheaper option, which is to use your existing cell phone mobile data plan in the car with the Cradlepoint Cradle-PHS300 Personal Hotspot.  This runs on battery but you can always charge it with the FFH's built-in A/C adapter.  :-)

One thing the article does not mention, and would seem to be a natural extension, is to allow Sync to access the Internet directly via the Bluetooth connection to the phone and the phone's connection to the Internet.  One could imagine an application that updates you on stock prices, or even allows you to access Pandora directly via Sync instead of via the mobile phone.  The advantage of this approach over the approach described in the article is that the mobile phone is simply a data carrier, and there is no need for a dedicated application on the phone.