Your Car on Your Phone: Ford Connects the Focus Electric to the Cloud

With SYNC, Ford was one of the first car manufacturers to connect its cars to the Internet and brought relatively high-end technologies like voice recognition and in-car WiFi to the mass market. Now, the Michigan-based company is taking this a step further with the introduction of the MyFord Mobile app for the battery-powered plug-in Focus Electric.

Ford didn’t specify its partners yet, but this technology will be powered by an on-board wireless module that will use standard cellular technology. The data from the car will be stored on a secure server in the cloud.

The MyFord Mobile apps will be available for BlackBerry, Android and iPhone, as well as in the form of a mobile web app for HTML5-capable devices and even WAP-enabled feature phones. With this app, Focus Electric owners in the U.S. will be able to check on the status of their car from anywhere in the world and monitor and control vehicle charge levels, plan their trips and pre-heat or cool their cars before they even leave their house. The app will also allow Focus Electric owners to open and close their cars’ doors remotely. Other features include locating the car with the help of the vehicle’s built-in GPS system and controlling the car’s charging state remotely.

Ford even added some game mechanics to the app. You can win achievements for “for driving and ownership milestones that can then be posted to your Facebook or Twitter account.”

Maps from MapQuest

Ford partnered with MapQuest to provide owners with the ability to find nearby charging stations – a feature that’s a must for any electric car and which also comes standard on the electric cars from Ford’s competitors like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

As the locations and availability of local charging stations continues to change and evolve – and given that you can’t just carry a spare battery with you if you run out of juice – it’s virtually a must for this first generation of mainstream electric cars to offer this as a standard feature.

Smarter Charging Courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft is providing Ford with the technology behind the car’s “value charging” feature, which allows owners to program their cars to charge during off-peak hours when their utility prizes are the lowest.

The App as a Key Component in Vehicle Ownership

According to Ford, this app will be a “key component in the electric vehicle ownership experience” and Focus Electric owners will find that a lot of the apps’ features are also available inside the car courtesy of a redesigned MyFord Touch interface. The mobile app will also feature the company’s SYNC Traffic, Directions and Information Service (TDI) which made its debut as a standalone iPhone app in late December.