Kyle Johnson
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Ford Says Ambient Lighting Can Help Extend EV Range

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Ford says ambient lighting may help extend EV range
Photo: Ford Motor Company

Part of the range anxiety folks have with electric vehicles involves the use of climate control systems. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, blasting the heat or AC in an EV can cut down driving range by up to 50 percent, which could potentially leave drivers in an unexpected lurch. But Ford is working on a solution to this problem: lights.

Specifically, Ford’s new Transit Smart Energy Concept employs red and blue ambient lighting with the idea that it will psychologically influence the comfort of passengers. Red light equals warmer, blue light equals colder. The concept is that if a person thinks the vehicle is warmer or cooler than it actually is, they won’t need to crank up the knob.

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Ford says ambient lighting may help extend EV range
A fella who likely feels very warm because the interior of the Transit Smart Energy Concept is lit like a fry reheater at an Arby’s
Photo: Ford Motor Company

“Our exposure to color can change our mood in all sorts of ways,” said Lioba Müller, lighting team engineer, Vehicle Architecture, Ford of Europe. “Here, it is simply a case of using red ambient lighting inside the car to make people feel warmer and blue ambient lighting to make people feel cooler. Reducing the burden on the aircon could make a significant difference to extending vehicle range.”

For as silly as that may sound on its face, there’s proof of concept from testing done at the Weather Factory in Cologne, where the use of ambient lighting resulted in a 3.3 percent decrease in energy used on cooling and a 2.5 percent cut in heating. Marginal, sure, but it’s something!

You could potentially try this theory out for yourself since so many Ford vehicles have ambient lighting as an available feature. Just bathe the cabin in a hellish red light when the temperature drops this winter and tell your passengers no, it’s not cold at all, you’re just being a big baby about it. It is very warm and very cozy in here. Grow up, you big baby. See if it works. Or, hey, just keep blankets in the car with you or something.

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