• New EV+ tech allows for more driving in electric mode.
  • Technology learns a driver's frequently visited locations.
  • C-Max Energi and others will use this technology.

New Ford technology delivers better fuel economy by increasing the time plug-in hybrids spend in electric mode. According to the automaker, its EV+ system incorporates in-car GPS to learn frequently visited locations, allowing the hybrid powertrain to remain in electric mode longer.

Ford says the EV+ system works by learning a driver's commonly visited locations, such as work, home or a local store. Once the system recognizes these destinations, it will ensure the brand's plug-in hybrid models remain in electric mode as a driver approaches them. That means the car won't switch on the gas engine in the last few moments of a routine trip, leading to an unnecessary charge and wasted fuel.

According to Ford, EV+ can keep a car in electric mode rather than switching to gasoline power for around an eighth of a mile when approaching a "known" destination. While that won't make for a huge increase in fuel economy, it will certainly have some positive effect. That's good news for buyers of Ford's plug-in hybrids--currently the C-MAX Energi and the Fusion Energi--who are likely interested in achieving the best possible gas mileage.

"We know from our research that hybrid drivers want to drive as often as they can in electric-only mode, especially near their home or other frequently visited locations," said Kevin Layden, Ford's director of electrification programs and engineering. "We already have a GPS unit in every Ford with SYNC, so it was really just a matter of tapping into it the right way."

SYNC, Ford's in-car infotainment system, allows for voice-activated communication when paired with a smartphone. It also uses GPS information to provide turn-by-turn directions to lost drivers and to relay vehicle location to emergency personnel in case of an accident.

Ford says the new EV+ technology is standard in both of its plug-in hybrids and the traditional, non-plug-in hybrid variants of the Fusion and C-MAX. The C-MAX and Fusion Hybrid are already on sale, while the plug-in Fusion is expected to arrive in dealerships next spring.

What it means to you: Ford's latest plug-in hybrids are rife with technology, and the automaker says it has filed roughly 500 hybrid-related patents.

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