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Rapid recharging is as important to electric cars as engines are to airplanes. That is to say, they won’t take off without them.
One of the biggest complaints with electric vehicles today is range anxiety, or the lack of being able to charge your vehicle on a long trip.
Ford thinks it’s finally figured out the best place to put the charging plug on an electric car: on the front grille, like the Nissan Leaf? On the pillar, like the Tesla? Or where the gas cap is supposed to be, like on the G-Wiz?
Nope, to all of those: Ford believes that the charging port for their upcoming electric Focus should be on the left front fender, so drivers can see the charge port when leaving the vehicle and remind themselves to charge up, and where it also won’t get easily damaged.
“The left front fender location keeps the charge port in sight, before the customer enters or exits the car, for an easy reminder to unplug or recharge,” said Mary Smith, a supervisor with Ford’s electric vehicle program. “It creates an intuitive placement for owners that also has aesthetic appeal.”
Owners of electric cars are expected to usually charge their vehicles at home, at a rate of nearly four times per day or almost 1,500 times per year. Compare this to the average owner filling up a gas tank once a week, and it’s important to find a spot for the charging port that’s both convenient and safe. If the port was in the front or rear, for example, owners would have to dig it out from snow or debris, and it could get damaged in even a minor accident.
But most importantly, with the charging port on the front fenders, it’s easy to stick on more of those stylish fake fender vents that have swept the industry, as if their designers were zombies that had shuffled into a Pep Boys. After all, what’s the point of burying an electric charging port subtly into the grille when it can impress people alongside all that “ELECTRIC” badging?
Ford has released a list of 25 cities in the United States that it labeled “electric vehicle-ready”, with the 20 initial roll-0ut markets for the Ford Focus E.V. listed, as well as 5 other cities, Baltimore, Dallas, Hartford, Honolulu and Charlotte.
Ford declined to rank the cities, instead listing them in alphabetical order, but said that cities on the list were working to help make it easier to install charging systems and offering incentives for charging your car during off-peak hours. Ford expects about 20 plug-in vehicles to be on the market by 2012, and believes it will sell “thousands” of Focus EVs.
The cities listed by Ford include Atlanta; Austin, Dallas and Houston in Texas; Baltimore; Boston; Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Hartford; Honolulu; Indianapolis; Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento in California; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington.
[Source: New York Times]
The charge stations use 480 volts rather than the 220 volts used in the home charging units. With the lower voltage, the charging process can take hours, but BP’s system will allow customers to get back on the road in the time it takes to stop for a bathroom break. The stations will only be installed at 45 of the company’s 11,000 gas stations, in markets where the Nissan Leaf is initially being rolled out.
BP is apparently using the pilot project to gauge consumer behavior related to EV charging, and hasn’t announced a pricing model yet.
[Source: Kicking Tires]