2012 Ford Focus Electric Vehicle at 2011 Detroit Auto Show

Electricfocus

  • Competes with: Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt
  • Looks like: Ford collaborated with Aston Martin on the Focus’ grille
  • Drivetrain: Electric motor with undisclosed power ratings and transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2011

Everyone knew this day was coming, but it’s finally here. This is Ford’s answer to the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. However, Ford has gone a different route, putting its new electric powertrain in a current gasoline model. And we all know how well this concept went for those trying to battle the Toyota Prius with hybrid versions of existing cars. Ford announced the vehicle today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but it will also be on display at the Detroit auto show next week.  

At a Detroit-area media briefing last month, Ford made some bold claims regarding its new Focus EV, which is set to go on sale late this year. Ford says the car can get a full charge on a 240-volt outlet in three to four hours, compared with the eight hours it takes to charge the Leaf with a 240-volt outlet.

Though pricing is still pending, the Focus EV will be eligible for the same $7,500 federal tax credit as the Leaf, and it will achieve a higher mpg-equivalent score from the EPA than the Volt. Total range is pending, but early indications are the Focus EV will go about as far as the Leaf. Ford’s modular 240-volt charging station can be removed from your home if you move, and the automaker reckons it will save Focus EV buyers $500 to $700 compared with the 240-volt stations offered by Nissan and GM.

In short: Ford’s gauntlet has landed.

The Focus EV looks like a more aerodynamic version of the Focus, with 17-inch Michelin Energy Saver tires and a large trapezoidal grille that appears fashioned by Aston Martin. A plug point sits above the driver’s side front fender.

Inside, twin LCD screens flank the speedometer, with battery charge in place of a fuel gauge. The gauges can be configured to show charge range versus the anticipated distance of your trip, and they can also display a pictorial diagram to show the range situation at a glance. Rather than the Fusion Hybrid’s defoliating shrub, the Focus EV has bluish butterflies that populate or disappear depending how much battery range you have versus your intended trip.

Ford was mum on drivetrain details except to say the Focus EV’s lithium-ion battery pack is liquid-cooled. Senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder raised concerns about air-cooled battery packs in his review of the Leaf; the Volt’s battery back is liquid-cooled. We were originally told it was an air-cooled battery like the Leaf, but Ford's most current release does state liquid-cooled.

We also don’t know the full range of the Focus EV. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s electrification programs and engineering director, said the car is beyond 100 miles in the EPA’s old LA-4 cycle — the same one Nissan referenced in its 100-mile claim for the Leaf’s range. The EPA’s newer five-cycle tests brought the Leaf’s window-sticker rating down to 73 miles, so it’s anybody’s guess what the Focus EV’s rating will be. The LA-4 results suggest that actual range should be competitive with the Leaf, however.

Smart charging, which allows you to pick off-peak hours to charge your car, will operate through the Focus EV’s Sync system. A smartphone app will allow owners to set charging times, much like the Leaf offers. Ford plans to give the app to owners free for five years.

The script unfolding for electric cars seems to mirror those of hybrids of the past decade. We wonder if the results will be the same.

Comments 

Ziggy

How do these electrics and psuedo-electrics effect the manufacturers CAFE requirement? Is this the real reason they're doing this...kinda makes you wonder?

Troy S.

Ziggy,

That's an excellent question and I believe it will be hard to get manufacturers to provide a clear answer to. I'm curious as well.

Cafe will have a specific formula for Electrics and cars like the Volt just like the EPA does. It will impact the overall Cafe figure but how much I don't believe has been determined.

65Chrysler300

Butterflies on the display??? You've got to be kidding me.

Troy S.

Thanks for your answer DT!

Belly

Looks like an Aston from the front.

Zack

The posting states the batteries are air cooled, but they are actually liquid cooled - and heated too, so they will operate efficiently in nearly any ambient temperature. The electric drive system for the focus was not an in-house project, but was done by Magna.

Zack

Info on the liquid cooled batteries is contained in Ford's news release.

Ken L.

Ford Mustang GT 5.0, Triton V10, Power Stroke Diesel, and now butterflies on your navigation screen, front and center. WTF???

Very interesting and amusing subject. I read with great pleasure.

Glenn

Love the grill! That's a worthy stand alone upgrade to the non-ev models. Poor man's Aston Martin!

Peter

How does the charging station get installed? Does it just plug in and act as a transformer from 110 or does one have to have an electrician come out and install a 240V line in the garage?

Scott

I really like the looks of this car and all the specs sound great! However, the battery pack seems to severely limit space behind the rear seat. I'd love a pic from the back with the hatch open to check it out more.

Zack

Peter it's going to take an electrician to get 240 Volt service to the charger, unless the garage is already wired to power a welder or something like that.

gMiller

Hey. I like the butterflies on the display...to match the ones in my stomach for buying a first-gen electric from Ford.

Ed Sparks

How is the heater powered?
How is the AC powered?

Do you think it is more practical and economical to use electricity as fuel for the power of vehicle than gasoline?

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