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2012 Ford Focus Electric to be "Fun" Like the Focus Gas

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author photo by Nick Chambers October 2011

The upcoming 2012 Ford Focus Electric uses no gas, but the company's engineers have spent a great deal of time and resources trying to ensure that it is at least as fun to drive as the gas-powered version, and may even improve upon it in several areas.

Journalists and consumers alike have given the all-new conventional Focus high marks for it stability, quick response, and confident cornering abilities. This is largely thanks to what's called torque vectoring control-a system that can adjust torque to each drive wheel on the fly to compensate for most steering errors that an average driver might make. Translation: tires are more firmly connected with the ground, even under hard cornering, which means the car stays on the path the driver intends.

In an interview with AutoTrader.com Sherif Marakby, Ford's Director of Electrification and Sustainable Mobility Programs, said his team wanted to replicate this precise and confident handling on the Focus Electric. As a result, the vehicle uses a form of torque vectoring control but because electric motors are inherently good at controlling the torque being transmitted to the wheels, the Focus Electric may perform even better than the conventional one.

"We spent a lot of time on making the Focus Electric fun to drive and I think people will be very surprised," said Marakby. "Even though the battery changes the center of gravity of the car and the vehicle dynamics can change, it has almost exactly the same sporty feel as the conventional Focus."

In addition to making it fun to drive, Marakby said a lot of engineering time was spent making it quieter than the conventional Focus. Without the constant growl of a gas powered engine, things like wind noise and road noise become more pronounced and even distracting or overly intrusive in an electric car.

As the first modern, mass-market all electric car to hit the road, the Nissan Leaf dealt with the noise issue by including some very interesting aerodynamics (ever wonder why the Leaf's headlights look like shark fins?), and even things like extra quiet wiper motors. Similar attention was paid to the Focus Electric.

"To deal with road and wind noise we added a lot of extra sealing, dash insulation panels, and under vehicle insulation," said Marakby. "Our underlying structure was very good at not transmitting noises to begin with, so without the engine there is very little vibration noise being carried around the car."

Marakby also said that a lot of work was put into making the fascia of the Focus Electric sleek and aerodynamic-and although it is strikingly reminiscent of an Aston Martin grille, Marakby insists that wasn't the goal. "More discussions happened around the noise and smoothing air around the front end than around the styling," he said. "The classic look was essentially the result of wind tunnel optimization."

The Ford Focus Electric is due to hit California and New York by the end of this year, followed by 17 other states by Spring of 2012. With that deadline looming, Marakby promised that it's only a matter of a couple short months before his claims can be tested on actual vehicles.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Ford Focus Electric to be "Fun" Like the Focus Gas - Autotrader