2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Motor Company is popping its hood for developers with the hopes that hackers can create tools to help drivers better understand fuel economy and improve their overall mpg.

The car giant announced a contest, the Personalized Fuel Efficiency Apps Challenge, at the this week’s 2013 New York Auto Show. The company is offering a $50,000 prize to developers that rise to the occasion and create working solutions to Ford customers’ fuel efficiency concerns.

“Ford Motor Company is challenging software developers to create the best mobile or Web-based apps that will help customers easily access their personal fuel-economy performance data,” Ford said. “With this data, using on-road personalized experiences, customers can share, compare and learn how to optimize their fuel usage.”

The challenge comes after two Ford hybrids came up short in fuel efficiency tests. According to Consumer Reports, Fusion and C-Max hybrids delivered only 39 mpg and 37 mpg respectively during testing. Ford had promised consumers a combined fuel economy of 47 mpg on its newest hybrid models.

“We have found that there are so many factors impacting the fuel economy people get, especially with hybrids across the industry, that we want to be the company that gives drivers the best tools to manage their own personal fuel economy,” Ford marketing head James Farley told AOL’s Autoblog.

Developers wishing to participate in Ford’s latest apps challenge will need to purchase a hardware kit from the company or use a free emulator available online. Submitted apps, whether they be mobile or web-based, are required to use Ford’s OpenXC platform and show drivers how factors such as location, weather, and driving style can affect a vehicle’s fuel economy.

For more information, see Ford’s official page on ChallengePost.

Image: Jerry Edmundson