While Ford expects most owners to recharge the Focus Electric at home with an optional wall-mounted 240V charging station, the vehicle will also have the ability to recharge at remote locations with a standard 120V convenience cord. Both types of connectors will use an industry-standard five-point plug fitted with an ergonomic Ford-branded handle specially designed for comfort and durable daily use.
Owners of Focus Electric will recharge the car’s onboard lithium-ion battery pack by plugging the convenience plug or charge station plug into the vehicle’s charge port. A full recharge is expected to take six to eight hours with a 240V charge station or more than 12 hours with a 120V convenience cord set. When fully charged, Focus Electric is expected to deliver up to 100 miles (161 km) of range.
Focus Electric’s convenience cord will be 25 feet long, making it long enough to reach the nearest outlet, eliminating the need for an extension cord. When not in use, the user can spool the cord around a special oval-shaped holder that also accommodates the cord’s control box. The spooled cord will have a designated spot in the vehicle’s trunk.
Between plugging in and unplugging at home, work or other places, Focus Electric owners are likely to recharge their vehicles two to four times each day (nearly 1,500 times a year) compared to once a week for gassing up (52 times a year). With a Focus Electric owner in contact with the connector so many times, Ford conducted an ergonomic study to help determine plug handle design, as well as charge port height and insertion angle.
Study participants—who ranged from petite adult females to larger adult males, ages 21 to 61—tested a variety of plug handle prototypes.
We tried handles inspired by hockey sticks and curling irons, but found that a grip diameter similar to a tennis racket handle worked best for the widest range of users. More than most automotive devices, Focus Electric's cord set connector has given us an opportunity to think outside the box and find inspiration from non-automotive consumer goods.—Cary Diehl, Ford human factors engineer
In seeking a blend of tactile toughness, high-tech polish and ergonomic comfort, the team benchmarked Craftsman tools and considered the attributes of such disparate products as Apple mobile electronics and OXO Good Grips kitchen utensils.
The plug handle uses a matte-finished blue rubber that allows for a comfortable, non-slip grip and the plug head is shielded with a glossy white hard plastic to protect the electronics.
Ford’s supplier partner Yazaki conducted extensive and durability tests on Focus Electric’s cord set connector, including an insertion/extraction study of 10,000 cycles to assess the durability of the interaction between the handle and plug. For every thousand insertions, testers dunked the plug into a sandy salt water solution to add grit to the connectors and they repeatedly dropped the handle and rolled over it with a car tire to test its durability. Testers also subjected the cord set connector to ambient extreme temperature increases.