back to article Ford to drive green motoring with 'leaves and vines' dashboard

Ford appears to have come to the conclusion that the way to save the planet is to patronise its customers into compliance. That at least is the only conclusion we can draw from its new SmartGauge dashboard. "SmartGauge with EcoGuide" instrument clusters will appear in the 2009 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids. …


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  1. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Up


    "The driver is immediately engaged by the SmartGauge displays..."

    ...and distracted from the focus of driving thus leading to a high-speed departure from the road and into (ironically) a tree. One less car on the road then! Environmentally it's quite, quite brilliant.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    LOL what a crock of shite!

  3. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    What a load

    of utterly patronising bollocks and bullshit. Do they want 'alternative' vehicles to be taken seriously, or not.

    Not, by the look of this.

    It's like something from a 2-year-old's toy dashboard.

  4. Martin Lyne


    Trees breathe CO2.

    You aren't being friendly to trees by reducing emissions, that'll be costal regions, ice caps, people who have to cycle behind your car.

    Fucking patronising idiots.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What side of the pond?

    Please confirm if you mean UK or USA? It's so confusing nowadays on The Register.

  6. Adam
    Thumb Down


    Just looking at the transmission display on the left... a LOW-RANGE setting on the transmission? On an eco vehicle? Why?

    The car already has sensors to assist in traction control and stability control. The engine management can sense engine load. I'd be surprised if it doesn't have tilt sensors but to add them would cost another few pence on the price of the car. Presumably, as it's eco, it's using a CVT rather than a nasty old torque converter.

    Between that little lot, there shouldn't even be a need for low-range as the car can detect when it's going uphill, downhill or towing. And you can still have a kick-down mode for those moments when you need to floor it.

  7. Robert Simmons
    Thumb Down

    "inform, enlighten, engage and empower"

    Ugh, pass me the Marketing sick-bag....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Krusty the clown

    Sounds like your trying to be Krusty standup cool with the whole eco/Al Gore bashing take.

    I don't imagine Ford think or said this will save the planet but it might just help some numpties think about their accelerate hard/brake hard while crawling strategy. That can't be a bad thing.

    It's obvious from the second image you don't have to look at the eco view if you don't want to.

    Personally I think the dashboard looks frikkin' cool.

  9. TeeCee Gold badge
    Gates Horns


    "A tutorial mode built into the display that helps the driver learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid in a whimsical way that does not overpower,"

    Don't tell me, it's got that sodding paperclip hasn't it?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban the word empower

    >Or, as Ford puts it, "inform, enlighten, engage and empower" the eco-conscious motorist.

    I don't need informing, I don't need enlightening, I don't need engaging and as God is my witness the one thing I don't need above all fucking else is empowering.

    What I need is a small electric car that reliably gets me 25Km to work and back in less time than the hour and half it would take on an inconvenient public transport system. On the odd occasion that I need a car to make a lengthier journey I could rent one.

    Alternatively maybe cars should not be owned outright but leased. Then for long journeys you could drop one off at a charging station and continue in a similar model. This would also be beneficial in cities where people live in flats and don't necessarily have access to a power outlet in their garage to recharge an electric car. I understand that this model might have been tried before but was supressed by the oil giants.

    Oh, and to keep on topic with respect to leaves and vines, what a waste of space.

  11. Pete James

    Utter bollox

    When driving any vehicle an image of some leaves is not going to make someone think about their acceleration and braking. The traffic, the weather and the circumstances of their journey will all take a big, big precedence over what some image is glowing back at them.

    I'm very disappointed in Ford falling for - and proferring on customers - such nonsensical guff.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Growing vines etc etc

    I love it! Genius!

    Let's take something that is clearly bad for the environment, and make it "less bad". Then let's take that "less bad" and rebrand it as "good". Let's suggest that driving a less destructive car makes trees grow, rather than admitting that while driving a less destructive car does less damage, it still does damage.

    While the existence of these things is better than relying on old smoke-belchers, this is still merely another demonstration that the manufacturers consider them little more than guilt-soothers.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I see what they're doing, nobody will want that, so car sales drop, which is what they originally wanted.

  14. Goubert

    The question is

    How long after release will it take for someone to hack it, hook it to the airbag sensors and turn it into a Carmaggedon-style scoreboard ?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    What of it?

    You guys certainly are a bunch of cynical bas***ds. What's the harm of it? Should the dash look like the cockpit of an F-15? Not everybody is a techno-weenie like we are. I give them some credit for trying to engage the commoners in the process. Sheesh...

  16. dervheid

    @ Jimmy Floyd

    "leading to a high-speed departure from the road "

    In a 'leccy car? Not much chance of that!

  17. Andy Mc


    Which side of the pond? "Mercury Milan" ought to be a slight clue for you....

  18. Phillip Bicknell

    Driver reward

    Even heavy vehicle engine manufacturers offer a "driver reward" output from their engine management system, that can be displayed for the driver, technician or owning company. Strange that they're not used, as far as I know - yet!

    Driver distraction is an increasing concern, and the EC Commission are only a couple of years off proposing some sort of regulation. And yet, cars like BMWs have had MPG gauges for donkeys years, so all that's really new is the pretty graphics. They'll probably get toned down before the car hits the streets (and tree).

    @Chris W: The G-wiz does 48 miles on a charge. That's 77 km in Euro-speak. Will that do you?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'Mercury Milan' doesn't work as a clue for me, could someone explain please (and undoubtedly make me look stupid).

    I'd love an icon to let me know which articles relate to the UK and which relate to the USA, I'm rarely interested in what happens on the other side of the pond (which side? there is a clue in this posting).

  20. dervheid

    Cynical Bas***ds?

    I was under the presumption that being a Cynical bas***d was a pre-requisite for reading/commenting on The Register. Stop being such a cowardly, sanctimonious pr**k!

  21. Alan Clark

    Artificial horizon?

    It seems to have artificial horizons around the centre speedo. A flying car could be the one thing that makes me drive a Ford again...

    ...Although given the build quality of those I have driven, perhaps not. Breaking down at 100 feet would be unpleasant.

  22. Matt Kimber


    My everyday commuting, shoving in station/supermarket car parks, and ramming the cars of drivers who displease me war shed has this feature, and it's ten years old.

    Okay, you don't get fancy vine and leaf metaphors, but you do get a big orange display that whenever you so much as think about the accelerator, starts displaying unwelcome news along the lines of "Instantaneous consumption: 7.0 m/gal" and "Average consumption: 12.6 m/gal".

    It's a good thing they've only calibrated it in miles per gallon and not pence per minute, else I fear I'd get no more than half a mile into a drive before having to pull to the side of the road, turn off the engine, and sit there sobbing quietly.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Or you could cut out the bollocks

    and have a real-time MPG display on the dash... wait, there is already on most cars, including my 2007 Focus ST; so if I wish I can be constantly reminded of just how poor its fuel economy is.

    /mines the faded Clarkson-like denim one

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Phillip Bicknell

    Thanks. That's going in the right direction. With the nights drawing in I wonder what effect having the lights on would have on the range. The only obvious drawback for me is that I don't have a power point in the garage, block of flats so I can't run a cable from the sixth floor to an underground car park.

  25. Skinny

    I dunno

    You know something, I quite like it. Ok the leaves growing on vines bit is a little silly, but the rest of the cluster looks ok to me.

    A lot of dashboards these days tend to the boring, and anything new is good. Let's face it you spend more time looking at the inside of your car, than you do at the outside, and unless your flash enough (and probably have no kids to carry around) to have a high powered motor, the thrill of driving isn't going to help you out any.

    I've driven one of the new Civics, now that's just a normal family sedan, has some quite nice styling to the body etc. but normal power, nothing to beat anyone from the lights etc. but the multi-level dash, with the digital speedometer is at least different, and makes you know you're in a new car. I really liked it, and I think the ford dashboard pictured here is the same kind of thing, colours everywhere, LCD's etc. Doesn't have to be too distracting from the driving, but just enough so you know it's something different and new. Give a person that feeling and they may buy the car, and with Fords (and the other US automakers) current issues, anything that helps them sell cars has to be worth a shot.

    So yes the leaves on vines may be stupid, but the overall 'newness' look is welcome, although I still prefer the more starship looking dash in the new Hondas.

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: Just looking at the transmission display on the left...

    Well I'm glad you can read that. I had a good look at the images and could hardly read a damn thing, except for the speedo in the middle. This looks like it was designed by the same gits who thought that "glass" was a good idea. Heads up guys, before you get all arty, there's a usability requirement that we can actually read the fucking display.

  27. Nils Hormel

    Mercury Milan?

    Isn't that a Spanish football team?

  28. kns2c
    Paris Hilton

    Mercury Milan...

    ... is a clue only for the inhabitants of the right side of the pond. There, now you have a clue about how to use a clue.

  29. JS Greenwood
    Paris Hilton

    Guff aside...

    ...letting drivers know how constantly braking/accelerating is costing them a fortune in fuel, and annoying me as the driver sat behind them is a good thing. Maybe the display should have my angry face on it, showing what various spike I want to impale them with or gunishment I want to inflict for their erratic driving. Or just a pound-sign-o-meter (or Chinese Renminbi for those in the US) showing how their inability to master basic foot-eye coordination is costing them.

    But please, PLEASE Ford, stop spouting the superlative mouth-words that dilute this into plain eco-bilge. There's more toxicity in their marketing than most V8 engines...

    Paris, because all driving there's erratic.

  30. Chris Dumont

    fast and eco?

    If the 200km/h speedo is anything to go by I can be the greenest racer on the road ;)

  31. Anonymous Coward

    I want my Ronco Dashboard Hibachi

    BBQing at 65 MPH is a God-given, inalienable right: use it or lose it.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why not just make ppl learn how their vehical works before letting them drive.....

    Too many noobs on the roads thats the problem.....

  33. Oninoshiko

    Actually there is evidence that we respond well to this

    There was a study out of the University of Washington (US) that used a vary similer feedback system (i think it was flowers growing, and butterflies would appear) to get people to exersize. It actually was well receved and proved effective, as silly as it sounds.

    Even adults respond well to getting a gold star, most of us just aren't honest enough to admit it.

    (WOW! It's a real, honest to god, primary source)

  34. Andreas

    Environmental impact of Mechanical vs LCD

    Wouldn't simple, old-fashioned, mechanical dials displaying basic information use less power and hence be more environmentally friendly?

  35. TeeCee Gold badge


    All depends really. I have in my hand a 2.2w bulb from a Smith's tachometer.

    <Counts instruments>

    Speedo, tacho, water temp, oil pressure, fuel, ammeter, clock.

    That's 15.4w in total when the lights are on. Does the multifunction unit draw more or less than 15.4w? (Mandatory, 24x7 "lights on" is coming, courtesy of the "we have to do something or people will notice we're a waste of space" types in Brussels).

    Never mind that you'd probably need a few extra dials to display all the info available from a modern multifunction display. Oh, and you *still* need a display for the navi system and built in ICE that's de rigeur these days.

  36. Danny Thompson

    Lets face it ????

    "Let's face it you spend more time looking at the inside of your car, than you do at the outside, ...."

    Oooh look. Another statistic just about to happen. Can you tell us where and when so we can take the GIFs and JPEGs of your imminent departure from this dimension.

    Ford still don't get it - we don't want fancy dashboards, the world and its dog wants/needs/fancies ZEV at point of use. And not some crappy "concept" vehicle. If an upstart like Tesla or Vectrix can do it why cannot a major vehicle manufacturer. And why not before 2010? What is so magical about 2010?

    Mines the one with "Get a f***ing move on" writted on the back

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Danny Thompson

    "Mines the one with "Get a f***ing move on" writted on the back"

    Surely you mean the front? Dork.

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