Ford Focus Electric
Juiced or not?
By Ron Amadon
Damascus, MD. – I admit it. It was hugely satisfying to drive by the five gas stations in town and know that in this car you would never have to pull in.
Your eye would never have to pan the sign out front to determine if the price of petrol is on the rise again. OPEC could stand for Out Past Ever Caring.
This excellent portion of satisfaction would be in a compact car that had plenty of around town get up and go, and looked like every Focus on the road, if that matters.
The first all-electric in Ford history is powered by a 107 kilowatt permanent magnetic electric motor that gets its juice from a 23 kilowatt hour liquid cooled Lithium-ion battery provided by LG. It is front wheel drive and the transmission is a one speed.
Not that it’s a big factor in this kind of car, but 0-60 comes up in just over 10 seconds and top speed is 84 miles per hour, a number few electric Focus owners will ever see. The suspension handled the poorly patched up roads around here with ease, handling was OK, and it was very quiet on the highway, proof that Ford included a lot of sound deadening material in the car. Its size should make it easy to zip around major cities, which with the range limitations of electric cars, is where it would likely spend the majority of its time.
The EPA said the Focus has a range of 76 miles on a full charge, and that is generally in line with rivals. Yet that is only under ideal conditions with the A/C off, the audio system too, etc., etc. Car and Driver came up with a 64 mile trip range, so for planning purposes you are really talking 32 miles one way.
In the instrument cluster, there is a wealth of information regarding the amount of electricity used and what’s left. Where the recently tested Fusion hybrid used leaves to determine what kind of economical driver you are, the Focus turns to blue butterflies. At the end of a journey, there is more info on distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and comparative gasoline savings by driving an electric. (See paragraph one.)
So that brings us to recharging time. Ford puts it at 20 hours from dead broke when one uses normal household 120 volt current. Step that up to 240 volts, and the wait time toward GO is reduced to 3.5 hours, assuming the wiring in your pad is up to the jazzed up electrons flowing through it.
The battery that keeps you moving had to go someplace, so it ended up generally where the gas tank would go in gas powered Focus models. That reduced storage space to 14.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 33.9 cubes total. That last figure compares to nearly 45 cubes in the gas powered Focus and the floor just behind the hatch is not flat.
Readers in some areas might have a hard time finding one since Ford only offers the electric Focus in select metropolitan areas.
The price of the test car was a major eye opener coming in at 10 bucks shy of $37,000. Ford points out that fed tax rebates could lower that to a more digestible $29,490 and that is not counting any state tax rebates.
But in the end, to my way to thinking, the all-electric vehicle, at this stage of its development, makes no sense because it violates the whole idea of why we like cars in the first place. The ability to get up and go whenever and wherever and for however long that might take kidneys and gas tanks notwithstanding.
Those living in urban areas certainly can save some big bucks by using public transportation and frugal minded suburbanite commuters can easily find gas powered hybrids come at or over 40 mpg these days.
Then you can run the A/C on hot 90 degree days rev the heater in the winter and fire up the seat warmers, the defrosters, and even your favorite songs without wondering if you will make it home. I also would not want to be in an all-electric if the beltway is shut down for an hour or more due to bad weather or an accident.
When and if the day comes when some genius invents an electric that has the range of a non-electric car and can be recharged much more quickly, then they become practical. And yes, Tesla is moving in that direction.
Yet consider this: A bud calls and says he has two front row, right behind the dugout, seats to a crucial game that will determine if the Orioles make it to post season. That is roughly 95 miles round trip from my home base, well outside the range of most reasonably priced electrics, and the ticket holder’s car is in the shop.
Electric or gas? You decide.