Ford begins production of 2012 Focus Electric at Michigan Assembly, C-MAX models on deck
14 December 2011
Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant is starting production of the 2012 Focus Electric (earlier post)—a five-passenger, battery-electric car Ford expects will achieve more than a 100 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) fuel economy rating. By comparison, the Nissan LEAF carries a 99 MPGe (combined) EPA rating, while the smaller i-MiEV carries a 112 MPGe (combined) rating. (1 gallon of gasoline=33.7 kWh).
A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey areas. Availability of the Focus Electric will expand in 2012 to the remaining 15 launch markets as production ramps up.
The 19 launch markets also include Atlanta; Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Focus Electric is powered by a 23 kWh lithium-ion (li-ion) battery system (with cells from LG Chem/Compact Power) with an advanced active liquid cooling and heating system to precondition and regulate the temperature.
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.
The Focus Electric offers faster charging with 240-volt outlets; the battery can be recharged in just more than three hours using a 240-volt charging station, about half the charging time of the 2012 Nissan Leaf, Ford notes, adding that faster charging with 240 volts also can extend range as drivers can more quickly recharge between stops—up to 30 miles per charge hour.
Ford’s rollout of electrified vehicles began in December 2010 with the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric—a small commercial van built in collaboration with Azure Dynamics. Ford will also be introducing the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid—also to be built at Michigan Assembly— for sale in the second half of next year. (Earlier post.)
Ford’s near-term electrification plan calls for the company to triple production capacity of its electrified vehicle range by 2013. The C-MAX vehicles will be built on the company’s global C-segment platform and are two of five electrified vehicles Ford plans to launch in North America in 2012.
The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi use the company’s next-generation powersplit hybrid technology in combination with a lighter, smaller lithium-ion battery system. Both models provide maximum fuel efficiency by pairing the high-voltage lithium-ion battery and electric traction motor with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine.
Ford is targeting the C-MAX Hybrid to deliver better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius v and the C-MAX Energi to deliver better MPGe in electric mode than the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and to achieve more than 500 miles of driving range using the battery and engine.
When C-MAX Hybrid launches, Ford becomes North America’s largest maker of hybrid transmissions. Among the new hybrid transmission’s features:
- Electric motors capable of operating at higher electric speeds
- A new, efficient cooling system that enables higher speeds in electric drive
- Optimized gear ratios enabling improvement in fuel economy
- More precise controls to deliver higher levels of refinement as the powertrain transitions between engine and electric drive
- Reduced weight to help increase fuel economy
This is the first hybrid transmission to be designed and built by Ford. Production is moving from a supplier in Japan to the Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., which also will assemble battery packs for Ford’s hybrid and electric vehicles.
Ford transformed Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., into a workplace with flexible manufacturing capability. With the new electrified vehicles and the new Focus ST performance model also coming in 2012, Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant is the first facility capable of building a full array of vehicles—gas-powered, EcoBoost, electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid—all on the same production line.
The plant also features one of the largest solar power generation systems in the state as well as several electric vehicle charging stations, allowing the facility to operate on a blend of renewable and conventional electricity.
Renewable energy collected by the solar panels directly feeds the energy-efficient microgrid, helping power the plant. When the plant is inactive, such as holidays, the stored solar energy will provide power during periods of insufficient or inconsistent sunlight. Projected energy cost savings are approximately $160,000 per year.
The plant also has 10 electric vehicle charging stations that recharge the electric switcher trucks that transport parts between adjacent facilities—saving an estimated 86,000 gallons of gas a year.
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