Ford EcoMode Targets Better Fuel Economy

It isn’t only what you drive, it’s also how you drive. With that as a premise, Ford is giving Focus drivers EcoMode, a software application coming standard on Focus SE, SEL and Titanium models that promises to guide drivers to better fuel-economy. The payoff in real terms? According to Ford, gas-mileage improvement of up to 24 percent.

EcoMode doesn’t itself influence how the car operates. Instead, it analyzes driving behavior and passes along information via a screen on how to squeeze more miles out of each gallon of gasoline. The advice offered isn’t anything you probably haven’t heard before: use the highest gear possible; smooth out those accelerations and decelerations; maintain a steady speed; anticipate traffic flow; flip into cruise control on the highway – things like that.

Ford EcoMode, fuel-efficiency improvement software application

image via Ford

Still, Ford said getting real-time feedback and reminders can make a surprising difference. It cited recent internal tests for the 24 percent improvement figure, and suggested a 15 percent improvement is easily within reach for all drivers – which, were it to happen, would result in 22 billion gallons of gas being saved each year.

“The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle,” said Ford engineer Thomas Schick, 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.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.