Not the first to the electric vehicle game, Ford is now ready to compete for your green dollars with the Focus Electric. While not definitively unique from rivals like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford does boast an advance in charging time, which the automaker boasts is half that of the competitive set.
|1. The Focus EV gets a 110 MPGe combined rating.
2. Majority of interior uses enhanced recycled materials.
3. MyFord app lets you check on your car’s charge level, find a charging station nearby, pre-condition the interior temperature and deliver fuel efficient navigation.
4. Ford’s 240-volt charging station takes just 3.5 hours to deliver a full charge and is portable too.
Ford’s strategy is to introduce a starter solution to sustainability, as well as a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a dependency on fossil fuels. But can the general public buy into the idea of charging their $40,000 car for several hours compared to filling up at the gas pump in minutes?
Let’s face it, a full charge in 3.5 hours may be a big improvement for an EV, but that’s still a long, long time. And let’s not forget about the range anxiety.
Released in limited number this past May in states such as California, New Jersey and New York, Ford’s goal is to sell at last 5,000 all-electric Focus models this year in markets looking for green motoring solutions. Priced at $39,995 it’s vastly more expensive than a conventional Focus, which starts at just $16,500. Extremely expensive for a conventional compact hatchback, it’s still a bit pricey as far as EVs go, at roughly $4,000 more than the Nissan Leaf – though it’s roughly the same price as the Chevy Volt.
Of note, with a $7,500 tax credit, the Focus Electric will actually cost you a more reasonable $32,495.
THE POWER PLAY
Powered exclusively by a new 23kWh lithium-ion battery the Focus Electric is rated as one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in America with a best-in-class city rating of 110 MPGe and a 99 MPGe highway rating for a combined 105 MPGe. Helping attain that excellent rating, particularly on the highway, is an Aston Martin-inspired front grill that hides an active grill shutter system to help the Focus slip smoothly through the air.
On each charge you can get up to 76 miles, helped by a regenerative braking function that captures over 90% of the energy normally lost through friction brakes and recycles it to recharge the battery. It’s no dud to drive either with 141 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque, though don’t look to set any speed records with a capped top end of 84 mph.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
STATION TO STATION ACROSS THE NATION
The Ford Focus Electric has a best-in-class 240-volt charge time of 3.5 hours for a full-charge, which is half the charge time of competing models already on sale – though Honda claims its upcoming Fit EV will charge in less than three hours.
The charge port on the vehicle’s body is located on the driver’s side front fender, illuminating with a flashing blue light ring to indicate that it’s connected, a solid light indicates that the battery is fully charged.
Working alongside leading electrical device producer Leviton, the charging station is compatible with all future Ford plug-in vehicles. Better yet, the home charging station can be plugged in to a a 240-volt outlet as opposed to being hard-wired into the electrical breaker box in your garage. So if you ever move households, you can always take your charger with you, easily.
The home charging station with installation retails for $1,599 and purchasing one is easy with Best Buy’s Geek Squad agents assigned to sell, deliver and service the unit.
The station isn’t required to charge the Focus Electric. It can be done using a conventional 120-volt household outlet and a special cord Ford supplies, though the charge time is then around 15 hours.
As an added convenience, Ford has developed the MyFord mobile app which let’s driver track and schedule remotely the charging of their electric vehicle from their smartphone. Features include: trip planning, sharing information online, receiving alerts, monitoring charging, the location of your vehicle, the nearest charging stations in your area and even efficient route navigation. Drivers can also share statistical information on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore you can use the app to schedule your EV to cool down or heat up from your smartphone.
Getting behind the wheels is a delightful surprise since the driving characteristics are borrowed from the fuel-powered Focus models. The Focus EV drives like a normal car without the engine noise. Despite the heavy battery it feels light and maneuverable. The electric power steering is responsive, even sporty. The absence of a gas engine, combined with the vehicle’s aerodynamics, allow for a quiet and comfortable in-car experience.
As seen and used in the first-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid, there’s a SmartGauge with EcoGuide consisting of two 4.3-inch full color LCDs on either side of the analog speedometer displaying information such as the battery power level and remaining range in miles. At the end of each drive, a display screen illustrates the distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumption and gasoline savings.
Maintaining the eco-friendly theme under the hood and in the cabin, the interior seating fabric uses a recycled post industrial yarn called Repreve and the cushions, seatbacks, and headliners are made of eight percent soy-based polyurethane foam derived from plant seed oils. Interior padding is also composed of post-consumer blue jeans. The car’s interior door panels and storage bins are composed of wheat straw and plant fiber-reinforced plastic. Despite the materials’ origins, they do not make the vehicle’s overall cabin feel less than comfortable or refined.
Finally, whether you like to roll to singer-songwriter Norah Jones or to the panic-rock of Metallica, the standard Sony audio system with nine speakers and HD Radio should keep you happy. A playful feature is the recently added iTunes tagging option. When you hear and like a song playing on HD Radio, you can press a “tag” button and the song info will be transferred to your iPod for future buying.
Initial availability of the Focus Electric is limited to just 19 metropolitan areas including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles to name a few. Priced at $39,995 the Focus Electric is the same compact car as its gas carbon copy but with new life under the hood and a goal to lead a new wave of eco-friendly automobiles, while positioning Ford as an EV leader. Delivering environmental sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions while furthering the shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels, the all-new compact Ford Focus EV goes a little further than the rest.