MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
REVIEW: Ford Focus Energi: A 'Shockingly' Good Electric Hybrid
Jerry Kronenberg discovers Ford's electric hybrid sedan a capable, but pricey car.
Boston Globe/USA 19 Aug 2014
The Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sedan shows that US automakers can still rival the best that Europe and Japan have to offer, combining great looks with nearly 100 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency.
An ultra-green sibling to the “regular” Fusion Hybrid (which is itself an eco-friendly version of Ford’s gas-powered Fusion), the Fusion Energi boasts special rechargeable batteries that will propel the car for 19 miles or so on electric power only. That means the midsize sedan will essentially run as an all-electric car if all you drive is roughly 10 miles each way to work.
Drive more than 19 miles and the car will automatically flip over to a mix of gas and battery power, basically operating as a traditional hybrid. The sedan’s batteries will partially recharge through regenerative braking, so you can go as far as you want without plugging the car in (so long as you occasionally buy gas).
It’s the perfect cure for anyone with range anxiety, a fear of running out of battery power and being stuck in the middle of nowhere. But because the Fusion Energi runs on battery power alone sometimes, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the vehicle’s fuel efficiency at the equivalent of 95 mpg/city and 81 mpg/highway.
Best of all, the car manages to post these phenomenal mpg figures while looking sharp and handling great.
On the outside, the Fusion Energi looks a whole lot like a sexy $48,000 Jaguar XF. The car’s sleek hood sits atop a debonair-looking grille and shiny 15-spoke aluminum wheels. From there, the Fusion Energi’s aerodynamic roof slopes back to the car’s abbreviated trunk area.
Inside, even the base Fusion Energi SE that I tested came standard with a wide array of upscale finishes, from chrome accents to stitched-leather seats.
The SE also features a great touch screen that controls the vehicle’s standard climate and audio equipment: Bluetooth, a six-speaker AM/FM/Sirius/CD/USB stereo, and dual-zone climate system. (The touch screen also ran my test car’s optional $795 navigational system.)
Nearby, an extra display shows you all sorts of great fuel-efficiency information. For instance, you’ll get a readout at the end of every trip as to what your mpg was, how many miles you ran on all-electric power, and how efficiently you applied the car’s regenerative brakes.
As for comfort, the Fusion Energi’s power front seats offer both driver and passenger plenty of headroom, legroom, and hip room. In back, split fold-down rear seats provide good headroom and hip room as well, although legroom might be a bit tight for adults during long trips.
All the way back, the Fusion Energi’s trunk offers a diminutive 8.2 cubic feet of cargo space, as the vehicle’s big battery pack eats up lots of room.
On the road, the sedan’s standard automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive, and 195-horsepower gas/electric power plant team up to provide a quiet, refined ride.
Putting the Fusion Energi through its paces recently along Routes 9 and 128 in Boston’s Metrowest suburbs, the first thing I noticed was that the car made absolutely no noise when I turned it on.
You’ll hear either complete silence or a quiet electric whir when driving in all-electric mode, as well as when the car has switched over to hybrid operation but is going at low speeds. The Fusion Energi’s gas engine does kick in at around 25 mph when you’re in hybrid mode, but the car runs very smoothly and quietly even then.
Ford says completely recharging your Fusion Energi should take around seven hours using a standard 120-volt electrical outlet or 2-1/2 hours at 240 volts. (I needed about five hours to juice up my test car using 120-volt power.)
Of course, the whole beauty of plug-in hybrids is that if you fail to charge them up, they’ll still run great as traditional hybrids. I didn’t plug my test car in for the first few days I had it, but still enjoyed an impressive 37.5 mpg in combined city/highway fuel efficiency.
Unfortunately, all of that greenness will cost you plenty of greenbacks.
Even a base Fusion Energi lists for $35,525, including destination charges, vs. $22,795 for a traditional gas-powered Fusion and $27,095 for a regular Fusion Hybrid.
It’s debatable whether the Fusion Energi is worth the extra money, as the Fusion Hybrid offers an excellent 44 mpg/city and 41 mpg/highway and even gas-powered models get a decent 22 mpg/city and 34 mpg/highway.
That said, Fusion Energi buyers do qualify for special $4,007 federal tax credits, while the EPA estimates charging up your car will only cost around 5 cents per mile for electricity. That’s like paying about $1.75 a gallon for gas. All told, the agency projects that you’ll save $6,250 over five years driving a Fusion Energi vs. the average car.
2014 Ford Fusion Energi
Price, base/as tested (with destination): $35,525/$40,585. Fuel economy: EPA estimated: 95 city/81 highway/88 combined. Fuel economy, Globe observed: 37.5 in hybrid mode, approximately 94 in all-electric mode. Drivetrain: 2.0-liter inline-4 plug-in hybrid, continuously variable automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive. Body: 5-passenger midsize sedan.
Horsepower: 188 in all-electric mode, 195 in hybrid mode. Torque: 129 lb. ft. Overall length: 191.8 in. Wheelbase: 112.2 in. Height: 58 in. Width: 72.9 in. (excluding mirrors). Curb weight: 3,913 lbs.
Good looks, incredible fuel efficiency, none of a pure electric car’s range anxiety.
Small trunk due to large battery pack, high price relative to both the gas-powered Fusion and the non-plug-in hybrid version.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re willing to pay the extra price for a plug-in hybrid, the Ford Fusion Energi is a lovely, eco-friendly, midsize sedan.
Chevrolet Volt, Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
The Highs and Lows of My First Month With My Ford Focus EV
Sewing expert Kathy Mathews recounts the joys and [temporary] woes of new electric car ownership with her Ford Focus EV.
Chicago Now 18 Jul 2014
My electric car is over a month old. Happy belated one month birthday Ellie Blue! I love my car but the first 5 weeks have not been perfect. I want to tell you the Ups and Downs of the first month of owning an electric car.
I will check in on her and so does my husband. All was just great. And fun to have a baby monitor on your car.
Until the end of the first week. Suddenly, the blue went red.
What? Negative battery?
I was hysterical. My car was dead as a door nail in my own garage. I cried, I admit it.
We had to have the car towed which was covered by Ford but still, it took time.
I had to get a rental car which again was covered but it all took time.
Ellie was at the dealership for about 4 hours. They discovered that the regular battery was faulty and made it appear that the electric car battery was dead.
They replaced it, of course and apologized.
I was nervous for a couple of days after that. Now, I am confident again about Ellie's battery life which is often way over the 76 guaranteed miles, up to 92.
The next challenge was installing a car charger in the garage. Our garage had several outlets but they were all 110. Have I mentioned that I live in a condo?
A second floor condo at that. We had to install a 220 line and hook it up to our fuse box. Oh and the garage is detached and separated by a driveway and sidewalk. Fun!
The first electrician told us it couldn't be done. But we had purchased the charging station from Home Depot and they connected us with Mr. Electric of Naperville. These guys were great. They were prepared to dig a trench if they had to.
They got my charger in and functioning properly by using the existing conduit which kept the Condo Association off our back. Win/win! Oh and some bucks, major bucks but eventually it will pay for itself. Key word: eventually!
In the meantime, the convenience of pulling in the garage and plugging in the car just can't be beat. I adore it.
For the past month I have been running around in my cute car and have only needed to charge it while out and about once. Luckily I was in Naperville which is a fabulous town for electric cars.
I used this station in a parking garage, cost me $1.50 to fully charge. And there were two more charging stations in the parking lot. There was also a car parked in an electric spot which wasn't an electric car. Grrrrr.
Oak Park is another wonderful suburb for having electric charging stations. So is my town of Frankfort and Arlington Heights.
But there are other towns on the naughty list. Yes, I am looking at you Hinsdale, Oakbrook, Western Springs and LaGrange. Why are you not cool and green?
I have written emails and even had a phone conversation with the assistant Village Manager of LaGrange.
That whole area needs to eco it up! The Hinsdale oasis doesn't even have a charging station.
I normally write a quilting blog but I love my new electric car so every once and again I write about her. Why?
Because she makes me sew happy.
My Electric Car Is Saving Me Money Right Now
Loveland, CO resident Peter Webb drives a Ford Focus EV and has the operations cost numbers to demonstrate its savings.
Reporter Herald/USA 09 Mar 2014
I read the recent letter, "Electric cars are not a good investment," with dismay, but of course, the numbers were hardly accurate.
As an owner of a 2013 Ford Focus electric, I can reveal accurate numbers. It is true the manufacture of an electric car has a larger carbon footprint, but beyond this, the carbon footprint during use depends on where you get electricity. For example, in California with a much cleaner grid, the EV wins, no contest, versus gas, but in the Rocky Mountain region, we have a "dirtier" grid; thus, an EV in Colorado is like driving a gas car getting 30 mpg, based on a recent report.
The Ford Focus EV is about $32,490, compared to the gas version at $23,400 with the same options — a difference of $9,090. But Mr. Wallace forgot the $7,500 federal tax credit and Colorado's $6,000 tax credit. At this point we are negative $4,410. The Focus EV gets about 74 miles per charge. The cost to charge cited by Mr. Wallace is an often-quoted "average" ($2-$3), but in Colorado we have low electric rates. Ford Focus EV 23 kilowatt battery times 0.6180 KW/H = $1.42. Thus, I can drive 222 miles for $3.66, the price of one gallon of gas.
The level 2, 240-volt charging station, was $999, not $3,000. The cost of maintenance is also expected to be a third less than the comparable gasser, at a savings of $1,500 yearly, based on a recent study. Now comparing the Focus gasser at 30 mpg for 15,000 miles in a year at $3.66 gallon = $1,830, Focus EV = $287.
Battery cost replacement will not be $15,000. Currently, lithium ion batteries are about $500 kw x 23 kw = $11,500, but as we all know, prices come down with technology and the price is projected to be $180/kw, by 2020 or $4,140. As well there are new, cheaper, more energy-dense battery technologies being developed. As you can see the future is here and its only going to get cheaper, but its going to be electric, not gas.
Review: 2014 Ford Focus EV
Kelley Blue Book review of Ford's all-electric,$36,990 Focus, which it concludes while not a 'road warrior' is a 'real car' for shorter commutes.
Kelley Blue Book 04 Mar 2014
There are two schools of thought on EV design, one camp believes in a ground up, purpose-built approach like the Nissan Leaf, while the other takes an existing car and electrifies it, like the 2014 Ford Focus Electric. Both have merit. In the former, you can design the car around the electric motor and battery pack and give it a design totally different from anything else in your line. In fact, some EV owners take pride in driving something that looks different. With the latter, while there may be compromises in packaging, the end result may be a better car that benefits from all the development dollars and engineering expertise that went into the conventional chassis.
Such is the case with the Focus, which, except for badging, looks just like any other Focus out there. Admittedly, from a utility standpoint, the battery pack takes up much of the cargo space in the area beneath the rear hatch. But what the Focus Electric lacks in cargo space or an exterior design specific to the EV technology, it more than makes up in comfort, build quality and driving dynamics. What Ford has done is essentially electrify a well-sorted automobile and it works quite well.
Quiet and seamless in operation, the 2014 Focus Electric delivers plenty of power to the front wheels thanks to its 107 kW motor, which is mated to a one-speed transmission. There's plenty of juice to accelerate easily from 70 to 80 mph freeway speeds, so the Focus feels plenty lively. The electrically assisted power steering has good feel and responsiveness. Braking is also linear with a pedal that's easily modulated, even as the battery pack collects additional electrons through regeneration. Other than the lack of powertrain noises, the road manners of this EV is remarkably similar to a gas engine Focus.
The same goes for the interior. The seats are comfortable and as part of a $995 option package, are trimmed in leather. The quality of the materials are high and the interior layout similar to the standard Focus right down to the MyFord touchscreen, which has its share of proponents and detractors. The biggest difference is the battery display that shows the charge status and range of the battery pack along with a "coach" that gives instant feedback on your driving style to let you know if you are depleting the charge and therefore the range at a faster or slower rate than "normal" driving would. There are also small bars that monitor how hard you are accelerating as well as your efficiency in cruising and braking. On my 15 mile commute home, the system reported that I returned about 4 miles in range thanks to regen braking.
With such a short commute and a maximum range of about 80 miles, I never had to worry about running the battery down and in fact, one night I drove home, didn't plug it in and made it back to the office, including a 70-mph freeway blast, with well more than 30 miles range in hand. Another night, I topped off using the 110 volt plug that comes with the car. Typically, it would take less than 5 hours to completely recharge the car on our 240 volt charger at the office.
Still, on another occasion I swapped the Volt keys with a staffer who was nervously turning over the Focus key fob in his hand, contemplating his 35 mile commute home and the prospect of not having easy access to an outlet. So range anxiety is an issue and certainly, the Focus Electric is not a road trip warrior. But, for shorter commutes, it offers real car comfort, utility and driving characteristics. And at $36,990, the pricing is not out of line in a market where the average family car costs $30,000. If you're less concerned about being seen in an EV than actually driving one, then the 2014 Ford Focus Electric should be at the top of your list.
Ford Focus EV Appealing Ride
Favorable review of Ford's all-electric car, but final caveat is on its range, officially rated at 76 miles per charge.
USA Today 14 Sep 2012
There's nothing wrong with electric cars that three times the driving range at half the price wouldn't cure.
In the case of the Ford Focus EV, that would mean about 230 miles of roaming room — not 76 — for about $20,000 — not $39,995 (or $32,495 if you qualify for $7,500 federal tax credit for driving a juicer).
But for now, wheeling around in a pure electric car is like piloting a high-price gasoline car with only a quarter-tank of fuel that would take you several hours to refill (albeit for less money than topping off with gasoline).
You're always looking at the range indicator, as you'd tensely keep a wary eye on a low gas gauge.
Electric backers cite data showing most Americans average only 35 miles or so a day — but an average means some days less, some more.
Range anxiety is real, and it keeps you from enjoying the driving satisfaction otherwise provided by an electric vehicle (EV) such as the Ford Focus Electric. You also stew over possible power outages leaving you no way to refuel.
Ford hopes to sell 10,000 a year once the car's available nationwide next year. A paltry number, but even so would be more sales than Nissan's Leaf. Which says a lot about demand for electrics.
Still, their number will rise as car companies scramble for ways to meet fuel-economy regulations that dictate an average 54.5 mpg in 2025. And rules in some states for a minimum number of Zero Emission Vehicles (i.e., electrics). But while EVs don't directly emit pollutants, the power to recharge them is about half fueled by coal, which has its own environmental issues.
The Focus EV, available only as a hatchback, is purely a Focus, save for powerplant. Thus it's as stylish as a gasoline Focus, but has even less space inside than the somewhat trim-fitting gas model.
The battery eats up rear cargo area, leaving you about 60% of the gas model's cargo room. That's a big drawback in a hatchback, because cargo accommodation is a hatch's forte.
But it's fun, likable and satisfying because Ford does a dandy job on the electric powertrain. Plenty of scoot from a dead stop, even though the EV weighs nearly 700 pounds more than the similar gasoline car. Electrics are like that. Zip aplenty the instant you push the pedal. Great in traffic. And the Focus has a generally sporty, inviting feel no matter what's fueling the car.
There's the faint whine you get from any electric car at low speed, but it's still quiet enough that people will walk in front of you not realizing a car's coming.
Official range is 76 miles. Our overnight recharging on 120-volt conventional home outlet bumped the gauge to 80-plus, and it seemed to drop 1 mile for each one driven if you used a light throttle foot. Get playful, though, and the range dropped much faster than one-for-one.
The car sacrifices an electric's typically creamy smooth driving behavior when you shift the gear lever to "L." Normally that'd mean "low," but in this Focus it's actually the setting most electrics and gas-electric hybrids have (often labeled "B") for increasing the amount of power that flows back into the batteries while braking, called regenerative braking, or simply "regen."
In "L" the Focus is quite abrupt in decelerating when you change pressure on the throttle pedal. In on-then-off-then-on throttle use that is common in heavy traffic, you're jerking like you have no finesse, probably aggravating and even scaring the cars behind and ahead with sudden dives.
One gripe specific to the recharging: The cord that's included for using a normal household outlet has a right-angle plug. Ford, nervous at the mere mention of using an extension cord to reach a distant outlet or provide a straight plug that fits easier, might well have chosen the angle plug deliberately to discourage you from sharing your Focus outlet with any other appliance.
You can skip the hassle and spend $1,500 or so to get a dedicated 240-volt circuit for the Focus installed at your home and be able to charge drained batteries in just four hours.
Nice to see an electric in mainstream livery; makes it seem approachable, inviting. But until electric cars' ranges go way up and prices come way down, it's hard to regard any EV as more than a marginal entry in the clean-air, high-mileage derby — a very nicely executed example, in Focus EV's case, but a niche machine nonetheless.
Nuts and bolts:
•What? Electric-power version of front-drive, four-door, five-seat, hatchback.
•When? On sale to fleet buyers since December, to individuals since mid-May.
•Where? Made at Wayne, Mich., alongside gasoline models. Sold now in California, New York, New Jersey; 50 states next year.
•How much? $39,995, including $795 shipping, plus about $1,500 for 240-volt fast-charge installation most buyers will want. Some buyers qualify for $7,500 federal income-tax credit. Some states offer additional tax subsidies.
•How many? 6,000 this year, 10,000 a year after that.
•What makes it go? Electric motor rated 143 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque, driving the front wheels through single-speed automatic transmission.
•How big? Nearly identical to gasoline Focus: 172.9 inches long, 71.8 in. wide, 58.2 in. tall, 104.3-in. wheelbase. Passenger space, 90.7 cubic feet. Cargo space, 14.5 cu. ft. behind second row, (vs. 23.8 cu. ft. in gasoline model), plus 1.5 cu. ft. under-floor nook; 33.9 cu. ft. when second row's folded (vs. 44.8 cu. ft., gasoline). Weight 3,624 lbs., 676 lbs. more than gasoline model.
•How thirsty? Range on a full charge rated 76 miles. Ford says four hours to recharge using 240 volts. Government fuel-economy rating is 110 miles-per-gallon equivalent in the city, 99 mpg-e highway, 105 mpg-e combined.
•Overall: Stylish, good-driving electric, but like all EVs, high price and short range undercut appeal.
Why Todd Woody Didn't By a Ford Focus Electric Car
Faced with steep monthly lease payments for a Ford Focus Electric and the challenges that come with the car’s 76-mile range on a charge, Forbes writer ends up buying a non-electric Focus instead.
Forbes/USA 15 Aug 2012
Back in June, I had the opportunity to drive the new Ford Focus Electric for two weeks and was so impressed by the car’s quality, performance and fun factor that I concluded it was a Tesla Model S for the middle class.
So when I reluctantly decided it was time to trade in my 11-year-old Toyota RAV4 I began lusting after the sporty battery-powered European-styled hatchback. But my quest to drive carbon free underscores the challenges that remain in selling electric cars to the mass market.
First I had to figure out where I would plug in the car. My cluttered 1928-vintage garage seemed too tight a fit but the city of Berkeley would not let me install an outdoor charger so I incentivized my teenager to sell the furniture taking up garage space. I put the kayak in the backyard and Zipcar’d a gasoline Ford Focus to see if it would fit. Voila, it did with literally just a few inches to spare.
With a sticker price of $39,995, the Ford Focus Electric ain’t cheap. But after a $7,500 federal tax break that the dealer deducts from the price up front and a $2,500 California tax rebate, $29,995 for a fully loaded electric car didn’t look bad, especially as the gasoline version tops out for just a little less.
But I wasn’t prepared to take the technology risk of buying an electric car that could turn into the automotive version of an iPhone 3gs in five years if, say, Tesla comes out with a $30,000 car or startups like Envia make good on efforts to create a 200-mile range battery.
Leasing seemed the way to go and Ford’s site quoted a $439 a month rate for a three-year lease. Kinda high but not outrageous. Until I started contacting dealers and got quotes ranging from $550 with a $2,500 down payment to around $600 a month with no down payment to lower the capitalized cost of the car. (You have to read the small print on the Ford site to learn that $439 doesn’t include, tax, title and other charges.)
Out of curiosity I asked what the lease would be on a fairly loaded gasoline Ford Focus hatchback. The answer: $275 a month.
The short answer is that Ford and other automakers don’t really know what one of their electric cars sold or leased today will be worth in five years as the market and electric car infrastructure is in its infancy.
But as NPR’s Adam Davidson pointed out in a recent column in The New York Times Magazine, car dealers are betting that the residual value of a conventional new car will be high in three years because of pent-up demand from car owners who have been driving their aging vehicles into the ground during the recession.
That means dealers can offer cheap leases because they anticipate making money on the back end. I’ll bet with electric cars dealers are charging more upfront to hedge the risk the car’s value will plummet in the years ahead – a theory that at least one dealer confirmed.
Faced with steep monthly lease payments for a Ford Focus Electric and the challenges that come with the car’s 76-mile range on a charge (fine for most of my daily driving but a pain if I want to go surfing at my favorite break), I briefly considered other electric cars with comparable ranges that offered lower lease payments. The Nissan Leaf’s space-age design didn’t do it for me and the car takes twice as long to charge as the Focus. The Honda Fit electric charges fast but I couldn’t see myself driving a very expensive econobox. (I had already ruled out the RAV4 electric due to its $50,000 price tag though it can go 100 miles on a charge thanks to its Tesla electric drive train.) I also test-drove the new Prius C, which was certainly sportier and more fun than the standard-issue Prius and offers 50 mpg. But the car seemed woefully underpowered with 99 horses under the hood.
But the ultimate competition Ford faced for my automotive dollar was Ford.
I found a sweet candy blue petro-powered Focus loaded with a sunroof – not offered on the electric version – and all the electronic goodies (The Wall Street Journal auto writer Dan Neil calls the Focus a “slagheap of silicon”) for a few hundred dollars over invoice. Add 0% financing and a good price on my trade-in and I ended up with well-equipped car that cost a little less than my RAV4 did when I bought it new in 2001.
I still lust after the Ford Focus Electric, which offers a superior driving experience, but that desire will have to go unrequited for a few years more. But Ford did accomplish one thing: It got me to buy an American car for the first time in 30 years.
Focus Electric Disappoints One Reviewer
Troy Wolverton has Ford Focus Electric for few days of commuting to and from work, but comes away less than 'enamored' by its inaccurate range estimation and lack of quick charging.
Mercury News 30 Jul 2012
I love the idea of electric cars. But I wasn't enamored with the Ford Focus Electric.
I drove the Focus Electric for three days this past week. During that time, I commuted to and from work, ran errands and made a trip up to San Francisco. In other words, I used it much like I would my own Prius.
I found a lot to like about the car. It's well built. Features like a navigation system, keyless door locks and a high-end sound system come standard. And while it's more expensive than a similarly appointed gas-powered Focus, the difference after federal and state rebates isn't outrageous.
But other than its all-electric powertrain, there's little about the Focus Electric that stands out. And the car offers practical problems -- many shared with other electric vehicles -- that can be hard to accept.
In designing the Focus Electric, Ford took a different route than Tesla. Instead of designing a car to be an electric vehicle from the ground up, it took an existing car and dropped an electric powertrain into it.
Thanks to that approach, the Focus Electric doesn't look like an alternative fuel car. Instead, it's a near replica of the gas-powered Focus on the inside and out. So, if your big concern about having an electric vehicle is that it will look weird or like some kind of glorified golf cart, the Focus Electric should put that worry to rest.
The problem with Ford's approach is that it had to shoehorn the electric system into the existing nooks and crannies of the Focus. In Nissan's Leaf and Tesla Model S, the battery pack is underneath the seats. In the Focus Electric, it's wedged into the storage space behind the rear seats.
As a result, the Focus Electric has 9 cubic feet less storage capacity in that space than does its gas-powered sibling. You can still fit your groceries in there -- but not a lot more.
Similarly, Ford placed the Focus Electric's motor in the front of the car. In fact, when you open the hood, it almost looks like you have a regular gas engine in there. Unlike the Model S, the Focus Electric doesn't have what Tesla likes to call a "frunk," for front trunk.
Like other electric cars, Ford's vehicle has constant acceleration. Because it doesn't have gears, it accelerates from a standstill or at speed without pausing to shift. It's no race car -- or even a Model S -- but that instant power can feel like a rocket ship.
But the car sometimes felt as out of control as a rocket ship. When reversing, pressing on the accelerator can cause the car to lurch backward much more rapidly than a gas-powered car. And gunning the accelerator at a light sometimes seemed to cause it to veer to one side or another. It reminded me a bit of when I was a teenager and would drive my parents '66 Mustang with its loosy-goosy power steering.
That said, the Focus Electric's driving quirks are ones to which an owner would likely grow accustomed over time.
Ford has been on mission lately to embrace technology, and the Focus Electric is part of that move. You can download an iPhone app -- sorry, no Android version yet -- that will tell you where the car is at any point in time and how much of a charge it has. The app also allows you to start the car remotely and send over driving directions to the car's navigation system.
Like other Ford vehicles, the Focus Electric comes with the MyFord Touch touch-screen console system. I had some of the same frustrations with it as I had when I tested the system earlier this year. It's frequently slow to respond to taps and often does a poor job of speech recognition, particularly of addresses. While driving around San Francisco trying find a charging station, I felt like punching the system, because I couldn't get it to search nearby; instead, it kept showing me charging stations in Brisbane.
That's a problem because, like many electric vehicles, the Focus Electric has very limited range. The EPA says it will go about 76 miles on a charge, but that can vary widely depending on traffic conditions, how you drive and whether you are running energy draining things like the air conditioner. I frequently found myself intensely focused on the car's range estimator and always thinking about where and when I would next charge the car.
Adding to my unease, the Focus Electric's range estimator was often wildly inaccurate. My drive home from San Francisco was about 52 miles, but the range remaining on the meter decreased by only about 41 miles. On the flip side, when I left home the next day, the range estimator said I had 92 miles of charge. But after going less than 19 miles, it said I'd already bled off 31 miles of charge.
So you can take those range estimates with a grain of salt. They're kind of like the warning light you get in some cars when you start to run low on gas. You don't really know how much farther you can go. That ambiguity can be stressful, because recharging stations for an electric car are much harder to find than plain gas stations.
One other shortcoming of the Focus Electric in terms of its charging is that it doesn't support rapid-charge technology. You can recharge it from empty in about 14 hours from a regular outlet or in about 4 hours from a 240V outlet. But you can't plug it into one of the new fast-charging stations that are starting to open.
Those kinds of frustrations would lead me to pass on the Focus Electric. It's not a bad car, but I'm holding out for something better.
Ford's Focus Electric Car Rules the Track
Leon Kaye takes the Focus Electric around the track and reports his findings.
Inhabit 08 Jul 2012
The Ford Focus launched this year, with the first models on sale in EV-friendly California, New Jersey and New York; sales will roll out to 16 additional states by the end of this year. Ford has not set an official sticker price for the 2013 Focus Electric yet, but its 2012 model’s price is set at $39,995. That price, of course, comes before government rebates that could knock that price down as much as $7,500, though a home Tier Two charging station will set back owners about $1,500. The reason why the Focus Electric’s price is on the high end is because of the battery, which costs anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000.
The battery is the juice behind the Focus Electric’s power; its permanent magnetic electric traction engine has a 100-kilowatt AC electric motor that offers 143 horsepower and 184 pound feet of torque. The LG lithium-ion battery provides a capacity of 23 kilowatt hours. According to Ford, the Focus Electric can rev up to a top speed of 84 miles per hour with a range of 77 miles and an MPG off 110 miles on city streets and 99 MPG on the highway.
Naturally, our lead feet wanted to slam the pedal right away since an EV’s torque is what makes these cars a hoot to drive. But Ford and the car itself encourages you to take a completely different approach to driving. The MyTouch dashboard is designed to remind whoever is behind the wheel to accelerate and break as efficiently as possible. Butterfly icons emerge on the monitor to give you an idea how much reserve power remains in the battery. And before you even start your journey, Ford suggests that drivers enter the final destination so that they can navigate smartly so that they can complete the entire trip with ease. As far as making the road trip enjoyable, the phone and music connections are easy to use and figuring out all the bells and whistles on the dash are seamless to figure out.
The interior sticks to the Focus Electric’s theme of being as eco-friendly of a car as possible. The seats’ upholstery are made from recycled plastic bottles. They aren’t as plush as conventional seating, but are still comfortable. For a tall fellow, the interior is more roomy than what one would assume walking up to the car. Five passengers sitting inside would feel cramped, but for someone 6’0” who is behind the wheel, the car’s comfort made you wish the range was longer than the 77-mile maximum. As far as cargo space, however, the fact that the 500 pound battery pack is under the rear seat and seat backs means that storage is limited compared to similarly-sized hatchbacks.
Then there is the actual drive itself. Despite Ford’s insistence we pay attention to the dash, naturally our instinct after pressing the power button was to slam the gas pedal to the floor as we began navigating around the testing track. The biggest surprise was how well the car handled and gripped the road. The combination of the MacPherson strut front suspension design, the “control blade” multi-link rear suspension and Michelin’s Energy Saver 225/50 17-inch wheels all contributed to blast on the track. The pylons sure did not appreciate our abuse, but the Focus Electric was amazingly resilient and maintained steady control as we whipped around the track’s corners. We could not decide what was more of a charge: accelerating as fast we could and enjoying the car’s impressive torque or the Ford Electric’s nimble cornering.
Ford’s biggest challenge will be evangelizing the car’s benefits to a market that is still resistant to EV’s. Buyers will have to opt for the tier two electric charging station, which, at 240 volts, can recharge the Focus Electric in two to four hours. The other option is hardly palatable: using the home’s standard 110/220 AC current means the driver would have to wait 18 or 20 hours for a full charge.
Overall, however, Ford Motor is definitely verging into the EV race lead with the Focus Electric. The spunky alternative to the LEAF, Fit and Chevy Volt offers the ecological and performance benefits one would expect from an EV with some of the enjoyable bells and whistles one would expect from a conventional car with an ICE engine.
Read more: Test Drive: 2013 Ford Focus Electric Rules the Testing Track | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
Test Driving Ford's Electric Focus
Ford’s decision to base its Focus Electric so closely on the standard gas model should help it undercut the low-volume, unique Leaf.
Left Lane News 10 Jun 2012
Ford is taking a piecemeal approach to reducing vehicle emissions, but the crown jewel of its eco-friendly lineup is the Focus Electric. This zero-emissions version of the Focus goes down a different path than rivals like the Nissan Leaf; by that, we mean that Ford didn’t create a dedicated EV platform or design.
Instead, Ford adapted its existing Focus compact to be one of many options shoppers intent on reducing their footprint can take home with them.
Behind the wheel of an engine-less car
There is no ignition key tumbler in the Focus Electric, a common enough trend nowadays, but the only way of knowing the car is ready to go after pressing the start button is through an infographic on the dashboard and a light. Like in a conventional automatic, the car will creep forward or back once the brake is released. The shift pattern includes Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low, all of which are again familiar.
Once underway, the car’s hefty 3,691 lbs. curb weight isn’t really felt in normal driving thanks to the electric motor’s instant and generous torque delivery. It’s eerily quiet too, only allowing the sound of traffic, wind noise and a distant hum to keep occupants company. The brakes aren’t as grabby as we expected, but they do take some getting used to. They produce a quiet thrum from under the hood, a sign that the regenerative system is working. An infographic that shows three arrows chasing each other in a circle on the LCD screen in the dash tells the driver the battery is being recharged under braking.
Merging onto a busy street triggered the traction control system, with the telltale light on the dash flashing. The official torque rating of 184 lb-ft doesn’t look that great, but it pours on instantly since electric motors don’t have a peak. The Focus Electric’s motor is rated at 107 kW, which equates to 143 horsepower, but the car feels much quicker than that number and the vehicle’s weight would suggest. The unique delivery made squirting into and out of holes in traffic easy and, dare we say it, kind of fun.
While we didn’t quite get to the official 84 mph top speed on our loop, we saw about 50 mph and can attest to a pleasant instant surge of acceleration that no doubt also surprised drivers around us.
Off the line acceleration was also impressive, and it was too easy to squeal the tires, being used to four-cylinder gas engines without a lot of down-low torque. Though this isn’t the car’s mission; instead, it’s a by-product of the electric motor’s might.
Of course, matting it isn’t ideal for the range, and the car’s onboard Energy Coach that consists of three horizontal bar graphs that give the driver feedback on how efficiently they’re driving. The fuller, the better, and after we stepped on it, the acceleration bar went to about halfway and turned yellow. We assume even worse performance will return a red colored bar but weren’t able to confirm this.
Coaching tips help get the most out of the batteries
A separate Brake Coach tells drivers how efficiently they’re using the regenerative braking capability of the car. It’s updated at every stop, showing how much energy was recaptured since the last one. We managed 97 percent without really focusing on it. At the end of a trip, the Trip Summary gives an average Brake Score, energy used in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the watt-hours/mile or kilometer average. A Lifetime Summary shows the distance drive since last recharge, the average Watt-hour per mile or kilometer energy used and the Brake Score. The range is officially set at 76 miles by the EPA, but we saw 72 kilometers (about 45 miles) remaining, with the battery icon showing the batteries to be about halfway drained. Ford reps suggested the range is closer to 160 kilometers (100 miles) under the ideal conditions and driving habits.
Thus far, these numbers don’t mean much to us, nor would they to the average motorist, who is instead used to thinking in terms of mpg. As more and more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids reach the roads, however, this will likely change.
The Focus Electric’s main competitor, Nissan’s Leaf, also offers five seats, but it offers unique styling as its body isn’t based on any of Nissan’s existing models. The Leaf offers more interior space, but it is rated at 99 mpgE compared to the Focus Electric’s 110 mpgE. The difference is no doubt due to the Focus Electric’s newer batteries, especially considering the fact the Leaf is some 314 lbs. lighter.
The electrified Focus uses 23 kWh lithium-ion batteries that get liquid cooling to keep them at optimal temperatures. Ford has made a big deal about the Focus being able to be fully recharged in about half the time of the Leaf thanks to the optional 240V charger and the car’s onboard 6.6 kW unit, though Nissan will double the Leaf’s 3.3kW h built-in charger’s capacity for the 2013 model year. Ford estimates about 3.5 to 4 hours to recharge the Focus with this accessory, which is likely to cost about $1,500. Ford has partnered with Best Buy to have the retailer’s Geek Squad install the 240V, 6.6 kWh charging stations in owner’s homes. A traditional outlet and the included 120V charger are said to take 18 hours for a full charge (20 for the Leaf), making the option pretty much a necessity.
A nice touch is the light-up ring around the charging port that will indicate the approximate battery life remaining when the front door is opened. Ford will also unveil a cross-platform smartphone app called MyFordMobile and an online portal that will let owners precondition the interior or cool or heat the batteries as needed while the vehicle is still plugged in to maximize range once the car’s on its own.
Leftlane’s bottom line
While the overall package was certainly impressive, electric cars still have a long way to go. There is the matter of range, as going away on a longer trip for a long weekend will either require renting a traditional, gas-burning car, or extending the trip and carefully planning stops to accommodate the recharging times.
However, Ford’s decision to base its Focus Electric so closely on the standard gas model should help it undercut the low-volume, unique Leaf. We think this is a sign of things to come.
2013 Ford Focus Electric base price, $39,995 (does not include $7,500 federal rebate).
Ford Plans Selection of Energy-Saving Vehicles
John Wenger likes what he sees and drives among Ford's emerging line-up of electric-drive vehicles.
Examiner.com 02 Jun 2012
There's no doubt that gas prices are still high and have no signs of going down significantly any time soon. As a result auto companies have started an arms race towards sustainability with less dependence on foreign oil. In every car commercial the biggest advertising message is MPG...whoever gets to the magical number 40 wins. That is until the new Pius got to 50 and then the Chevy Volt with extended range plug in electric technology. The new race for fuel efficiency has also reinvented the wheel towards the Electric car market. Once killed by big oil, the electric car market is quickly growing. The Nissan Leaf is the top selling electric car right now and compared to the other EV's out there it is the best looking electric car. However, it is still an ugly car that has limited range, which in effect has hurt its recent sales numbers. If the Leaf is thinking about making a comeback in sales it should probably think again. Ford is due to deliver their new Focus Electric within the next couple months to showroom floors. Pre-sales are already in the works and dozens more are itching to get behind the wheel. All the hype surrounding the car is definitely for good reason. If you look at it from the outside it looks like a 2012 Ford Focus, but with an Aston Martin grill. If you look inside the vehicle it is loaded with technology and cabin space. Oh...how does it drive? That's the best part, it drives like a real car! I had the privilege of driving the car a couple weeks ago and I was blown away. The torque was incredible for an electric motor, the MPGe was outstanding and there was no range anxiety because the technology in the car planned out my route so that I would always find an electric charging station.
Now obviously a lot of commuters cannot own an electric vehicle due to the range and the constant search for electricity, but have no fear, Ford has another car coming out that takes car of all your anxieties. The 2013 Ford Fusion coming out at the end of the year is available in both Hybrid and Energi. The hybrid is expected to get between 47-53 MPG which is a big step forward from the 41 MPG the current Fusion Hybrid gets. However, the Fusion Energi is what is getting everyone excited at Ford. This is the company’s first Plug-in Hybrid vehicle that will be a direct competitor with the Chevy Volt. In case you are unfamiliar, Plug-In Hybrid vehicles are a cross between an electric vehicle and a hybrid. With a full charge the vehicle can travel 35 miles gas free, once it has met the maximum distance, the gas engine kicks in with the help of the battery, giving it hybrid style fuel efficiency. On one tank of gas the Fusion Energi is expected to be able to cover a 500 mile range, which is better than the Volt. Oh and did I mention it is WAY better looking? The car looks like an Aston Martin, but will be affordable to the general public.
With so many people in the market for a new car, fuel efficient is definitely the biggest purchasing consideration amongst consumers. Ford has done a brilliant job adhering to this consumer demand and I'm interested to see how the next few years go.
Driving Ford's New Focus Electric
David Booth shares his experiences driving Ford's new all-electric car.
National Post/Canada 18 Dec 2011
Wayne, Mich. -- I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not — or even much of a surprise — but much of Ford’s focus (pardon the bad pun) on its new electric vehicle is all about range. I suspect that, like most things, all the customizable apps and navigational systems will prove a boon to some and anathema to others. At the very least, all those electronic widgets encourage a commitment to changing one’s driving habits common only to the dedicated enviro-weenie.
For instance, there’s an app (these days, isn’t there always?) for your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android that lets you not only monitor your Focus’s battery level from anywhere (useful from an airport in, say, Spain, to check if you have enough juice to get home when landing back in Canada) but also schedule charging to minimize electricity costs.
The same app will find local charging stations (presuming there are any) and even keep a running tab on your CO2 emissions and money saved by motoring so virtuously on electricity.
You can even — and this is by far the coolest feature — pre-heat (or cool, if it’s summer) the Focus Electric’s cabin before you drive away. The MyFord app does this, because the Electric’s range is maximized if the interior has been acclimatized while plugged in rather than wasting precious battery charge to do it. Personally, I think it’s just cool to be able to climb into a nice, toasty-warm cabin for the morning commute.
There’s even a braking “coach” on board. A display in the instrument cluster tells you when you’re maximizing regenerative braking. (As with all aspects of EV and hybrid optimization, easy does it. Longer, gentler braking periods are more effective at recharging the battery than short, abrupt stops.) Even the Focus EV’s navigational system gets in on this range-extending customization. With an EcoRoute function, you can choose an alternative path to your desired destination that wastes fewer electrons, extending the car’s range a smidgen.
More prophetic, though, is the “Can I get there?” function. As useful as it may be, however, it may also be a constant reminder of the EV’s shortcomings. And, naturally, the Focus EV has to have a little display telling the driver how virtuously he or she is driving. In Ford’s case, it’s a series of blue butterflies — the more butterflies you have, the more of a “butterfly effect — in which a small change can have an enormous impact.” Or so it says in Ford’s press material.
Of course, the Focus EV is more than just computerized gizmos. Underneath its more aggressive skin (the deep, shark-like front grille makes it look très sporty), there’s a 23-kilowatt hour lithium ion battery. Like the Chevrolet Volt — and unlike the Nissan Leaf — Ford uses a radiator-like system to heat or cool the battery to maintain a constant temperature, the company’s engineers finding the more consistent climate conducive to long battery life.
Those 23 kWh are said to power the 107-kW (143-horsepower) electric motor for about 150 kilometres, about the median for current EV technology. Ford says the Focus can attain a 135-km-an-hour top speed, although exercising that performance frequently will dramatically drop its projected 160-km maximum range. Ford also says that the Focus’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency miles-per-gallon-e rating exceeds 100 miles per U.S. gallon (2.35 litres per 100 km), which is best in class.
One aspect of the Focus EV that Ford is justifiably proud of is that the car’s 23-kWh lithium ion battery can be recharged in three to four hours on a 240-volt system compared with the six to eight hours the Nissan Leaf requires at the same voltage. Credit the larger onboard 6.6-kW charger compared with the Nissan’s 3.3-kW item.
The 240-volt chargers for the Focus will cost about $1,500 to $2,000 (though British Columbia and Quebec are offering cost-offsetting subsidies for the chargers as they are on the EVs themselves). But the Focus can be recharged using a common 110-volt household outlet, though it will take much longer.
As much as Ford will be trumpeting the miracle that is the Focus EV, the true strength of Ford’s new electrified lineup is the depth of its choices. Ford calls it its Power of Choice program.
For instance, the soon to be introduced C-MAX will be available only in hybrid and plug-in hybrid guises, although both can be built on the same production line as the Focus EV, allowing Ford to easily adjust production volumes according to demand.
Ford also promises the Energi plug-in version of the C-Max will offer better overall fuel economy than Toyota’s new plug-in Prius and, with an overall 800-km range, it can travel farther on a tank of gas than Chevrolet’s Volt, according to the automaker.
Ford adds that the C-MAX Energi has a pure EV mode that allows it to travel up to 32 km on electric power alone. It, too, has a customizable app that monitors the lithium ion battery’s charge status and range. As for the basic C-MAX Hybrid, it also uses a new lithium ion battery and an electric motor in conjunction with its 2.0-litre four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine (the same as in the Energi’s).
Ford of Canada is not releasing pricing on the new C-MAX lineup yet, but the automaker says the Focus EV will retail for $41,199. That’s a few thousand dollars more than Nissan’s base Leaf, but, according to Steve Ross, Ford’s product marketing manager, sustainability and electrification, it’s much better equipped. Indeed, Ross says the Focus EV is so well equipped in standard trim that there are only three options available — leather seats, metallic paint and a cargo management system.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the Volt extended-range electric vehicle has a retail price of $41,545 and has none of the range limitations of a pure electric vehicle.
Ford's New Focus EV Boosts Eco-Friendly Features
Besides being electrically-driven, the Focus electric incorporates recycled and renewable materials.
The College Driver 21 Jan 2011 The environmentally friendly reach of the Ford Focus Electric goes beyond its zero-emissions motor. Focus Electric combines recycled and renewable materials, green technologies and innovative manufacturing processes to make the car green from bumper to bumper.
“An electric vehicle is already considered a green vehicle, but Ford wanted to go a step further by looking at ways to make the materials inside the Focus Electric more eco-friendly as well,” said Carrie Majeske, product sustainability manager, Ford Motor Company. “Using recycled or renewable materials in lieu of petroleum-based materials allows Ford to minimize the amount of virgin materials used in the Focus Electric.”
The Focus Electric is not only green in areas where customers expect it to be, but also in places they might not, like in the seat cushions. Soy-based foams, which are used on more than 20 Ford vehicles, will be used in Focus Electric, with seat cushions shaped from 8 percent soy-based content. A material called Lignotock also is used behind the cloth on the door. Derived from 85 percent wood fibers, this lighter application results in a weight reduction and provides better sound-deadening benefits compared to conventional glass-reinforced thermal plastics.
“One of the more impactful things we are doing is finding a way to increase the use of recycled materials in resins. We have a strategy that specifies the use of a large quantity of post-consumer recycled material in a range of plastic applications,” said Majeske. “Pop bottles and milk jugs eventually become part of components like underbody shields, wheel arch liners and air cleaner assemblies.”
By using more recycled content in resins, Ford can further reduce the amount of oil-based plastics in vehicles. This also cuts down on overall oil consumption. Applications of the post-consumer plastics also include carpets, roof lining and replacement bumpers.
Ford, Detroit Edison and Xtreme Power are teaming up to establish one of Michigan’s largest solar power generation systems and electric vehicle charging stations at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., where Focus Electric will be produced. Ford will work with Detroit Edison to install a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system, which will be integrated with a 750-kilowatt energy storage facility that can store 2 million watt-hours of energy using batteries – enough to power 100 average homes for a year.
Several new and innovative production processes at the plant will help make the vehicle even greener. For example, a new three-wet paint process applies all three coats of finish in sequence before oven curing, ensuring high-quality paint finish and a significant reduction in energy use.
With charging playing a major role in Focus Electric ownership, Ford also looked to make the vehicle’s home charging stations greener. Jointly developed with Leviton, a leading North American producer of electrical devices, Ford is offering a charging unit that has an outer shell made from up to 60 percent post-consumer recycled material.
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