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Ford set to improve 2013 hybrid software

Wed, 17 Jul 2013

Ford said on Monday that it would recall its 2013 Fusion, C-Max and Lincoln MKZ hybrids, but not for the reason you might think. Like your cell phone software, the car’s software systems are getting an upgrade.

Starting in August, owners of those cars will be notified of their option to bring the cars in for a software enhancement that will help even out the variability in mileage. Calibration updates include increasing the maximum pure electric speed from 62 mph to 85, optimizing the Active Grille Shutters to reduce aerodynamic drag under more driving conditions and temperature conditions, reducing the electric fan speed to minimize energy consumption, shortening engine warm-up time to enable electric only driving earlier and finally optimizing the climate control system.

The fixes will only take a half day, according to Ford, but the company would like everyone to make an appointment, so shops don’t have hundreds of cars at once looking for the update.

“Just as individual mileage can vary based on driving styles and environmental conditions, we expect fuel economy improvements will differ from customer to customer depending on individual driving habits,” said Raj Nair, group vice president of global product development. “Customers should see the most improvement at highway speeds, during air conditioning use and during operation in colder climates.”

Ford says it consulted with the EPA before it made the decision to upgrade the cars, but since the actual mileage numbers won’t change, it didn’t need express permission to make the fixes.

Also at the press conference, Ford touted its hybrid electric vehicle sales for 2013, which have increased 400 percent over the same period a year ago. Ford’s share of the U.S. electrified vehicle market is also up 12 points to 16 percent, while hybrid vehicle leader Toyota’s share is down 8 percent.

Ford also noted that 64 percent of C-Max buyers came from other brands, and the most common make conquered was the Toyota Prius.

By Jake Lingeman