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Electric cars are where we are headed at the moment. And it presents a change to driver understanding and lifestyle adjustments to some degrees when it comes to planning trips and the like. So driving one could create some worry as to, “Am I going to make it home?!”

Ford is one of those companies that is working hard and figuring all these coming hurdles out. And here is an interesting piece from them which highlights some of the cool tech and software that is becoming part of the driving experience.

Ford Butterflies

Ford Console with Butterflies

(NAPSI)—A helpful band of electronic butterflies may soon keep many motorists from getting butterflies in the stomach from fear of running out of fuel. That’s because the more butterflies that appear on the dashboard of a new all-electric car, the more confident the driver can feel about having enough battery life to keep on going.

It’s all part of the way one automaker is working to create cars that best fit the needs of drivers.

Ford chose to use butterflies after testing the in-dash display on a number of potential customers through a specially designed driving simulator. It takes users on an 11-mile circuit through a variety of terrain that a typical drive might include—hills, cities and flat land. In the simulator, a user sees exactly the same information that would appear in the real car, including two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking the speedometer in the center. These screens provide details on battery charge, distance to charge point, the corresponding budget and expected range surplus.

Feedback from these driving simulations are then used by automotive engineers to make sure the interactive display in the car is easy to use and meets drivers’ needs for simple-to-understand information about range, destinations and charge points, helping owners plan trips most effectively.

“These screens are an integral part of Focus Electric and we thought the best way to make sure they would do their job is to have people come in and try them out for themselves,” explained Ford engineer Paul Aldighieri.

The idea was to make information accessible, particularly for people who are not familiar with the electric vehicle experience. That’s where the butterflies came in. Specifically, they were used to graphically represent how much farther the battery could take the car. An earlier idea, to use a circuit board, was poorly received. It was seen as cold, unattractive and not exciting and dropped in favor of the butterflies.

Drivers who want more in-depth information can use buttons on the steering wheel to configure their own custom information screen, choose trip budgets and range views and decide whether to display associated text with each screen.

The system also helps drivers make the best use of the vehicle’s regenerative brakes to recapture kinetic energy and send it back to the battery.

At the end of each trip, a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and comparative gasoline saved by driving electric.

Learn More

For more information, you may care to flutter on by to www.ford.com.