One of the most exciting developments to come out of Detroit in a long time was the announcement that Ford plans to revamp their entire Focus lineup for 2012, and the buzz is all around one of the five new models, the electric vehicle. Small cars may not be the glamor end of automotive design, but for city lifestyles they trump, so an all new electric vehicle is a cause for celebration.
Unlike most electric vehicles that tend to adopt unique bodies, and frankly make buying them awkward for their inability to blend into the crowd, the Ford Focus Electric is clearly part of the same family of vehicles, and a passing glance won’t raise eyebrows in its standard 5 door configuration. If electric vehicles are to gain acceptance, they need to be seen as regular vehicles competing on the same points like comfort, luggage space, safety, or entertainment systems.
Ford have recently shaken off their financial blues and seem poised to regain their place in the history of automotive innovation with the Focus Electric, a vehicle that firmly identifies itself as green, more so than Toyota’s hybrid Prius, and if Google are a litmus test of the Focus Electric’s viability, we could see a lot more of these vehicles on our roads.Ford are obviously going to be aggressive in marketing their new EV, with Google taking delivery of the first production model off the factory floor just before the season’s holidays. Rumors that Google plan to purchase several hundred of the Focus variants for their campus and Street View teams may very well have Toyota worried.
Taking a new approach to electric vehicles, Ford have designed the Focus Electric to charge from a regular socket, 120v in North America, and 240v for international sales, with advanced active cooling for temperature regulation. The 6.6kW on-board charger produces a full charge in the 23kwh lithium-ion batteries in 3-4 hours using the 240v charging station.
An illuminated charging port is located just in from of the driver’s door, and a full charge is colored solid blue, perfect for seeing in dark garages. The battery packs are actively heated and cooled for stable use in all weather types, though Ford haven’t released any figures showing how drive time would be affected in hot or cold climates.
Ford have also decided that battery use is an important consideration for any driver, and rather than minimize the display to a simple sliding scale, they have developed a full suite of battery indicators including a range view indicator, brake coach showing the percentage of brake energy recaptured, and a smartphone app that monitors battery charge and points out nearby charging stations.
The all electric engine generates a top speed of 84mph (135kmh), not exactly spectacular, but certainly road-worthy for guilt free driving. 123hp means acceleration is comparable with other vehicles in its class, and the single speed transmission means no more gear changing, and Ford states, “delivers quick responsiveness, smooth acceleration and no-compromise driving fun.”