The all-new 2012 Focus Electric marks Ford's entry into the EV market. The action is clear evidence the automaker is taking aim at Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, claiming a better mile-per-gallon equivalent and faster recharging time. It is one of five new EVs that are planned as part of Ford’s electrification strategy.
Owners will appreciate the ability to recharge at home using an available wall-mounted 240-volt charging station in half the time it takes to charge the Nissan Leaf, according to Ford. And Ford’s value charging program, powered by Microsoft, helps owners charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates utilizing off-peak hours, which helps to lower those aftermarket costs of EV ownership. Like some of the newer hybrid vehicles and EVs I’ve seen appearing on the market, Focus Electric owners can opt into a smartphone app and website for monitoring key vehicle functions and charge setting while on the road. Ford will also offer a reworked version of its MyFord Touch Driver connect system, specially designed for Evs.
Focus Electric is Significant Step
So how else is Ford hoping to grab a big piece of the EV market share? Clearly, the automaker considers the 2012 Focus Electric to be the crown jewel of its expanding fleet of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles it plans to roll out by 2013. Not only is the company boasting about energy efficiency and zero emissions, per usual in the EV market, but it’s also hoping its suite of smart driver information technologies will help the Focus Electric dominate over the competition in consumer minds.
It will be introduced as a vehicle with adequate range for covering most daily-driving needs and a mile-per-gallon equivalent that surpasses Chevy Volt, which Ford clearly has in the crosshairs. But the Volt isn’t the only target, as the Focus Electric will be promoted as requiring half the charge time compared to the Nissan Leaf.
The 2012 Focus Electric is a five-door hatchback that makes use of Ford’s global C-car platform found in the gasoline and diesel-powered Focus models. Ford says its all-electric powertrain and single-speed transmission are behind the Focus’ ability to provide immediate responsiveness and smooth acceleration. Top speed is 84 mpg. Drivers will find that the EV version of Focus feels and handles much like its conventional counterparts, though the lack of an engine coupled with the attention to aerodynamics usually found in hybrid and electric vehicles means a quieter drive, as expected.
No Cutting Corners
Ford is positioning the Focus Electric as being unique in the market because it will exhibit the same premium components found in non-electric cars, while still delivering on fuel efficiency and driving experience, at a level it claims exceeds that found in other EVs. Consumers will be the judge of that prediction, of course.
The Focus Electric features all the standard safety and security features expected, including six airbags and electronic traction control. In addition to being all-electric, Ford attempts to go one green step further and uses eco-friendly materials through, including bio-foam seat cushions and recycled fabrics. Additional features include push-button start, HD Radio, and voice-activated navigation system, among other bells and whistles.
Owners will recharged the Ford-engineered lithium-ion battery pack at home daily, using the recommended 240-volt wall-mounted charge station, sold separately, or the 120-volt convenience cord that comes with the vehicle. When plugged in, the onboard charger converts AC power from the grid to DC power to charge the liquid-cooled and heated battery pack.
As technologies have advanced, so have the onboard driver information systems found in each year’s new slate of available vehicles and the 2012 Ford Focus Electric is certainly no exception. Its system is designed to help drivers stay on top of everything from the recharging process to fuel efficiency to driving range. Although such systems are becoming common place in hybrids and EVs—and more advanced with each model year—Ford says the system in the Focus Electric will be a cut above the rest, claiming it offers more data and makes it more readily accessible than the competition.
Modernized Instrument Panel
You might enjoy the cluster display in Ford Electric, which utilizes blue butterflies to represent the surplus range beyond a charge point destination with more butterflies indicating more ability to fly down the road without a charge. At the end of each trip, a display screen provides eco-information, like distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, a comparative gasoline savings and energy consumed. The butterfly cluster is integrated with the navigation system.
Another feature allows owners to have instant access to vehicle information and perform some functions remotely wherever there is mobile access through the use of the mobile phone app. On the power side of things, Ford seems to have given attention even to small details, like ensuring the power plug is ergonomically comfortable to hold as well as durable. A lighted ring loops twice around the electric port to reassure owners of connectivity. It then flashes during charging, then forming solid-lit quadrants during charging stages until remaining solidly lit once the vehicle is ready for the road.
The 2012 Focus Electric is powered by an advanced lithium-ion battery system engineered by Ford in cooperation with supplier LG Chem. The battery utilizes heated and cooled liquids to maximize battery life as well as fuel-free driving range.