|The Ford Focus Electric. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company officially unveiled the Focus Electric—the company’s first all-electric passenger car. (Earlier post.)
The five-door electric hatchback leverages Ford’s global C-car platform shared by the gasoline and diesel-powered Focus models. Both Focus gasoline and electric variants to be sold in North America will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., with production powered in part by one of the largest solar energy generator systems in the state. For European markets, a decision on where the Focus Electric will be built is currently being finalized.
The Focus Electric will launch in late 2011 and is designed to “offer enough range to cover the majority of daily driving habits of Americans” (e.g., up to about 100 miles). (Nissan’s LEAF has a EPA range of 73 miles.) Ford says the Focus battery-electric vehicle will offer a mile-per-gallon equivalent better than Chevrolet Volt (93 mpge all-electric, 60 mpge combined, earlier post) and competitive with other battery electric vehicles (e.g., Nissan LEAF with EPA rating of 99 mpge, earlier post).
Focus Electric will be powered by an advanced lithium-ion battery system engineered by Ford in cooperation with supplier LG Chem. (Earlier post.) The battery system utilizes heated and cooled liquid to help maximize battery life and fuel-free driving range.
Focus Electric uses an advanced active liquid cooling and heating thermal management system to precondition and regulate the temperature in the battery system. The active liquid system heats or chills a coolant before pumping it through the battery cooling system. This loop regulates temperature throughout the system against external conditions.
On hot days, chilled liquid absorbs heat from the batteries, dispersing it through a radiator before pumping it through the chiller again. On cold days, heated liquid warms the batteries, gradually bringing the system’s temperature to a level that allows it to efficiently accept charge energy and provide enough discharge power for expected vehicle performance.
A full recharge is expected to take three to four hours at home with a 240V charge station.
Focus Electric introduces new features and technologies—including a unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system especially for electric vehicles, a new value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile (earlier post) that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.
The execution of MyFord Touch driver connect technology for the Focus Electric offers an innovative presentation of vehicle information, such as battery state of charge, distance to charge point, the corresponding range budget and expected range margin. The system’s MyView feature allows drivers to access even more vehicle data including the electrical demands of vehicle accessories such as air conditioning, which can impact driving range.
Similar to the growing leafy vine of first-generation SmartGauge with EcoGuide represents fuel efficiency in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the cluster display in Focus Electric uses blue butterflies to represent the surplus range beyond one’s charge point destination—the more butterflies there are, the greater the range.
Ford says the designers were inspired by the “butterfly effect”, a phenomenon in which a small change, such as choosing to drive an electric vehicle, can have an enormous impact. To reinforce the message, at the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and a comparative gasoline savings achieved by driving electric.
The cluster is also integrated with the MyFord Touch map-based Navigation System using the vehicle’s center stack 8-inch touch screen. After the driver adds destinations, including their next charge point, into the Navigation System, the vehicle will coach drivers on how to achieve the desired range—or if travel plans need to be adjusted. The on-board Navigation System provides an EcoRoute option based on characteristics of efficient EV driving.
The new Focus Electric also offers a value charging feature, powered by Microsoft, to help owners in the US charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates, lowering the cost of ownership.