January 7, 2011
At this point in the world of all-electric vehicles (EV), Nissan’s Leaf is the only real, mainstream contender. That’s about to change as Ford just announced the Focus Electric, Ford’s first all-electric passenger car. Like the Nissan Leaf, the Focus Electric uses no gasoline and is powered by plug-in electricity stored in its lithium-ion batteries. While making the announcement, Ford called the electric Focus the “Flagship of our new family of electrified vehicles” indicating there are several more EVs and hybrids on the way. The Focus Electric is based on the all-new Ford Focus that was shown at last year’s Detroit Auto Show. Both the gasoline and electric powered Focus sold in North America will be built in the US at Ford’s Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan. Construction will be partially powered by solar energy.
Because the Focus Electric shares its basic architecture with the gasoline powered Focus, the EV should be reasonably fun to drive. Focus Electric includes standard safety and security features like six airbags, traction control, Sync and MyKey. Ford will also use environmentally friendly materials in the construction of the all-electric Focus including bio-foam seats and interior fabrics made from recycled materials.
Since the Focus Electric will likely be more expensive than a typical gas powered Focus, the EV version includes lots of standard features that are usually optional on a car like the Ford Focus. MyFord Touch driver connect technology is standard as are 17-inch aluminum wheels, push button start, nine speaker Sony® Audio system, Sirius® Satellite Radio with Travel Link, HD Radio™ and a voice-activated Navigation System.
To keep tabs on the car, Focus Electric owners will also be able to use the company’s new MyFord Mobile technology which allows Smartphone users to receive alerts when vehicle charging is complete, view vehicle stats and pre-heat or pre-cool the car’s cabin and battery pack while the car is still plugged in. Smartphone users can also remotely lock or unlock the car’s door, find the car via GPS signal and remotely start the car.
The Focus Electric is powered by lithium-ion batteries, supplied by LG Chem, Inc. A liquid heating and cooling system is used to keep the batteries within an optimal temperature range which in turn extends battery life. Total charge time from a 240 volt charging station should be about three to four hours. At this point, Ford has not stated the Focus Electric’s range but says it will be “competitive with other battery electric vehicles.” The rechargeable battery system is rated at 23kW h, output is 92 kW or about 123 horsepower. Torque is rated at 181 lb ft. The Focus Electric’s top speed is 84 MPH.
The Ford Focus Electric will be on sale by late 2011. By 2013, Ford will have five new electric or hybrid vehicles on sale in North America.
BRIAN MOODY has been an automotive writer and presenter for more than 10 years. He has contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business, the Today Show, Speed TV, Edmunds.com and KTLA in Los Angeles. He currently covers the automotive industry and reviews new cars for the nationally syndicated Car Concerns radio show.