Ford begins roll-out of Focus Electric; electrifying the platform efficiently
17 April 2012
|The Ford Focus Electric. Click to enlarge.|
Ford has begun the consumer roll-out of the Focus Electric, the battery-electric version of its new Focus; production of the vehicles began in December 2011 at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. (Earlier post.) The Focus Electric is Ford’s first electric drive light-duty passenger vehicle resulting from its strategy to electrify its entire high-volume platforms, rather than one-off specialty models.
Ford’s platform-based strategy—which anticipates that electric vehicle sales will grow over time—allows the company to adjust production to meet the inevitable fluctuations in demand as the market develops, noted Ford CEO Alan Mulally in a media briefing on and drive of the Focus Electric, held in conjunction with the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in Laguna Niguel, California. The Focus Electric shares 78% of its parts with the conventional Focus, he noted, and comes off the same line.
The Focus Electric is powered by a 23 kWh Li-ion battery pack engineered by Ford using pouch cells from LG Chem; an advanced active liquid cooling and heating system preconditions and regulates the temperature. The pack comprises 430 cells; system peak power is 60 kW charge, 110 kW discharge, and specific power is 0.36 kW/kg. A 105 kW permanent magnetic electric traction motor delivers 188 lb-ft (255 N·m) of torque, and propels the car up to 84 mph (135 km/h).
The Focus Electric has been certified by the EPA to offer 105 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) combined, with 110 MPGe city and 99 MPGe on the highway. Combined cycle consumption is 32 kWh/100 miles. (Earlier post.) As a comparison, the Nissan LEAF is EPA-certified at 99 MPGe combined, 106 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway. Consumption is 34 kWh/100 miles, combined cycle. However, the Focus Electric has a base curb weight of 3,624 lbs (1,644 kg)—600 lbs of that the battery pack. The Nissan Leaf (SL) weighs 3,385 lbs (1,535 kg); i.e., the Focus is a heavier car, albeit with a slightly smaller battery pack. (The Leaf uses a 24 kWh pack.)
An on-board 6.6 kW charger enables faster charging than the Leaf with its 3.3 kW charger—a benefit Ford is quick to highlight as potentially provided extended useful driving range during a day’s activities.
Ford spent a great deal of engineering effort to maximize the efficiency of the vehicle, as well as to deliver on its goal of making the Focus Electric a Focus that happens to have an electric powertrain, as opposed to a distinctive electric vehicle. The Focus Electric preserves as much of the handling, responsiveness and visual cues of the conventional Focus platform as possible.
|Optimizing the efficiency of the Focus Electric energy-consumers. Source: Chuck Gray. Click to enlarge.|
Ford took a holistic approach to optimizing the efficiency of the vehicle. In a presentation at the SAE Hybrid Vehicle Technologies symposium in February, Chuck Gray, Chief Engineer - Ford Electrification Engineering, said that to achieve the overall efficiency in the Focus Electric, the engineers identified every energy-consumer in the vehicle, broke them out and optimized them, then rationalized and critiqued the results for the final integrated vehicle design.
One of the elements contributing to the efficiency of the powertrain is the active thermal management of the battery pack, since power capability is a strong function of temperature and SOC, Gray noted.
|Focus Electric regen (top line) vs. a comparator. Source: Chuck Gray. Click to enlarge.|
Ford also developed improved regeneration capabilities for the Focus Electric, which will subsequently appear in other electrified vehicles in the Ford line-up.
Ford will ramp up Focus Electric retail production in the first half of 2012 for dealership availability in California, New York and New Jersey. By the end of 2012, Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the US.
Driving impressions. In the brief media drive, the Focus Electric displayed the zippiness and most of the handling of its conventionally-engined cousins; the Electric seemed to exhibit a slight wallow in sharper cornering, due to the 600 extra pounds in the rear from the battery pack, the effects of which have not been entirely offset by suspension tuning, etc.
The improved brake regeneration is extremely smooth and without any jarring of the occupants, but very efficient at 97%. (A display on one of the HMI displays provides feedback on the amount of available regen energy the driver has captured during a braking event; it is extremely gratifying—speaking entirely subjectively—to hit 100%.)
The Electric is also very quiet inside; Ford’s sound dampening efforts yielded a superior return.
Overall, Ford seems to have achieved its design goal—a battery-electric version of a mass-production platform that preserves the attributes of the model family while delivering well the benefits of an all-electric powertrain.
The Focus Electric carries an MSRP of $39,995, including destination charge. A federal income tax credit of $7,500 is available, as well as different state credits or rebates. (Earlier post.)
Ford seems to get higher efficiency (moving a heavier car, more distance with less e-energy) than the Nissan Leaf. Nissan will have to re-design the Leaf?
Posted by: HarveyD | 17 April 2012 at 09:26 AM
Not so sure that sharing 78% of components and parts with regular ICEVs is the ideal approach for the end users. BEVs should use more suited, much lighter design vehicles to go more distance with smaller batteries.
Posted by: HarveyD | 17 April 2012 at 09:42 AM
I consider this LEAF competition, the fact that it is a known platform could be a plus. Nothing special, you can get service and parts, as long as it has the range for the right price.
Price is a whole other issue, people do not consider $40,000 for a compact car that will only go 100 miles affordable. You could offer quick charging, but you do not have the quick chargers yet. Even after all this preparation we do not have a cohesive plan for roll out.
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 09:52 AM
I think Ford's BEV offering is toast, only likely to soak up some Government flag waving orders and there for the mandates.
This is actually a generic design by Magna, able to be stuffed into any production car.
Putting it in the Focus has led to a mssive intrusion into what would otherwise be the boot space, which although nominally the same in volume as the Leaf is utterly impractical in it's shape:
Not only is it currently about $4,000 more than the Leaf, but Nissan tell us that localising production to Europe and the US will save up to a third on their costs due to the high yen, and presumably reduced cost due to greater production.
They are likely in my view to reduce prices at least to the level at which the Leaf was first introduced, and possibly even to a few dollars less than $30k before the tax credit.
With their low volume adaption of an existing vehicle there is no way Ford can compete without loosing a packet on every car.
RIP Focus EV
Ford either has to get serious about building BEVs in volume or get out of Dodge, IMO.
Posted by: Davemart | 17 April 2012 at 10:13 AM
I predict that it will sell about as well as the LEAF in coming years. As the zen master said "we will see".
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 10:26 AM
Ford at $40K, Coda at $40K, Volt at $40K, Leaf at $36K, and I-miev at $30K(shorter range). Of these cars the I-miev is the only one with the correct pricing, however, it's shorter range makes it viable for a narrower market, it's pretty much a city car. So do you suppose that for the most part the prices are at $40K because GM set the price of the Volt at $40K. It seem like one of these compnaies should be able to differentiate themselves on the price point. I guess while they are unsure whether they trust the technology they really want to minimize their risk by not truly encouraging sales. You could call it collusion of the risk averse.
Posted by: Brotherkenny4 | 17 April 2012 at 11:00 AM
'I predict that it will sell about as well as the LEAF in coming years. As the zen master said "we will see".'
In that case the 150,000 a year capacity factory Nissan is opening in the US would have to be a disaster.
Posted by: Davemart | 17 April 2012 at 11:06 AM
The batteries still cost a lot. Ford could sell at cost but why? If they can sell 10,000 cars per year at $40,000 and make money, or sell 20,000 per year at $30,000 and make no money, why would they?
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 11:08 AM
I can see manufacturers testing the waters with a BEV based on one of their ICE platforms, but BEVs are fundamentally different from conventional cars. For the next generation of BEVs, I think car makers will have to design BEVs from the ground up to stay in the game (e.g. BMW i3).
Detroit's electric cars seem to politically motivated -- to show they are moving into the future. I'm not sure their corporate hearts are in it.
But, yes, we will see. This business is a good spectator sport. I would not even try to guess where we will be in two years, much less in five or ten.
Posted by: ChrisL | 17 April 2012 at 11:22 AM
What would be the MSRP if the $7500 credit wasn't available?
Posted by: Zhukova | 17 April 2012 at 11:31 AM
I do not think Leaf will sell 150,000 units per year in the U.S. any time soon. I was thinking maybe 20,000 this year and if may take a while for Ford to catch up. Again, this is all fun speculation, no one has a crystal ball.
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 11:52 AM
Davemart has some good comments.
The Focus EV may slightly more efficient than the LEAF in EPA testing, but the design of the makes some serious compromises in usability (note the severe lack of trunk space).
Nissan will be tweaking the LEAF slightly for 2013 - so far we have confirmed that it will have a heat-pump heater (much better range in cold weather when heat is needed) and 6.6 kW L2 charging.
One could hope that they also squeeze in a few other tricks to up efficiency, certainly on paper with the LEAF's lighter weight it should at least match Ford in city efficiency. Some tweaks to regenerative braking are likely what's needed there.
Nissan will likely make more significant changes with the 2014 model year LEAF - by then their USA and UK battery plants will be running full speed - will Nissan also have better batteries hiding up their sleeve?
Many drivers would like to see 100 mile real world/EPA range - but battery cost and weight are keeping that from happening at this time. I wouldn't be surprised to see manufactures offer a couple different sized batteries similar to what Tesla is doing in the future.
Posted by: Dave R | 17 April 2012 at 12:03 PM
The Focus Electric will not be a good seller unless they lower the price. Of course, in public statements they have to be bullish. However, behind closed doors, they think it's fine if it doesn't sell in large numbers. If something doesn't work out as expected, there is still a risk involved introducing a new technology.
You can say they still beat a good number of manufacturers by having a plugin offering at all.
Posted by: Arne | 17 April 2012 at 12:15 PM
600 pounds of batteries in the back does not make for great handling, however purchase decisions are not always based on specifications of weight distribution.
People will test drive the Leaf then drive the Focus EV and which ever one they like they may buy, simple as that. Right now not a lot of people are rushing to the dealers in the U.S. standing in line to test drive an EV. That could change, but I have not seen it so far.
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 12:43 PM
Nissan are one of the best managed car companies in the world, not one of the worst.
That's why they know perfectly well that they will not hit the volume they are going to need from the new factories in Europe and the US and so drive down cost without heavy price reductions from current levels.
Since they have already said that they can take a third out of costs there is no question but that they have the wherewithal to reduce costs enough to hit their sales targets.
That will amount to a price reduction of $3-6,000 off the present price of the Leaf, it seems likely.
Ford are looking to sell a few hundred to a couple of thousand of the Focus EV.
They might make it this year. Next year they will disappear.
Posted by: Davemart | 17 April 2012 at 03:19 PM
"certified by the EPA to offer 105 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) combined, with 110 MPGe city and 99 MPGe on the highway."
32 kWh/100 miles
32 kWh is about the energy in one gallon of gasoline, but they never said how much energy it took to create the 32 kWh of electricity.
If 115,000 BTUs is 32 kWh of energy, but I am 40% efficient in generating, transmitting, converting and getting it into the battery, I have 12.8 kWh in the batteries for about 38.4 miles per "gallon".
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 03:21 PM
"Next year they will disappear"
If I understand your statement, you are predicting that the Ford Focus EV will not be sold in 2013. I am willing to take you up and that prediction and say you are wrong.
Posted by: SJC | 17 April 2012 at 03:28 PM
They need to design a platform specifically for an EV. The battery pack should be in the floor for much better Cg.
The grill opening needs to be nearly closed up -- the need for cooling on an EV is minute compared to an ICE, and this would lower the aerodynamic drag by as much as 10%, and the range would be improved by about that much.
Does gasoline appear out of thin air? If you are going to account the generation losses for an EV, then you need to also add in the energy overhead to find oil, drill and extract oil, transport it, refine it, transport it again, etc.
For a fair comparison, we should use the BTU equivalent of 33.7kWh per gallon of gasoline; as the EPA does.
Posted by: NeilBlanchard | 17 April 2012 at 07:44 PM
'"Next year they will disappear"'
I think it is perfectly clear on any candid reading that my meaning is that they will disappear in the sense of selling in any significant volume.
Posted by: Davemart | 18 April 2012 at 02:20 AM
it will disappear.. and Ford does not care, its just a Magna conversion on the production line. Ford just threw the towel in when they priced it at $40k, they just never planned the volume needed to lower the costs
Posted by: Herm | 18 April 2012 at 04:21 AM
Let's say "any significant volume" is less than 3000 units per year. An arbitrary number, but at least quantifiable. So now we are saying that in 2013 Ford will sell less than 3000 units per year, I will say that Ford will sell more than 3000 Focus EVs in 2013.
Posted by: SJC | 18 April 2012 at 08:18 AM
Bt the time Nissan takes out $8k out of the cost of the Leaf, leaving it at $27k, the Federal tax credit will be gone and whiners will still complain that it costs too much.
Todays prices are lower than diesel powered cars in Europe and Israel, once you take advantage of all the incentives, it will only get better.
Posted by: Herm | 18 April 2012 at 03:34 PM
Its nice to see Ford finally getting this vehicle out, much better looking than the Leaf IMHO.
Ford isn't going to sell nearly the number that Nissan sells Leaf's, but Ford isn't trying to (slow rollout, low production numbers and high price). Come Focus Electric v2 (years and years from now) and we'll see a Ford designed EV setup (no Magna located inverter in the trunk) and larger volume sales targets.
Nissan has bet a huge chunk of the farm on plug-in sales and is building massive manufacturing capacity to make that happen (half-a-decade ahead of anyone else) - they know they'll need to drop prices significantly to do that, I hope they can.
Will people still buy some Ford Focus Electrics even if Leaf prices go down, sure and Ford isn't interested in making alot of them - it covers their ZEV requirement in CA and dips their toe in the water of the EV market in preparation for the future.
Posted by: Sasparilla | 20 April 2012 at 11:43 AM