No stranger to us, the Ford Focus Electric hit the center stage at the 81st Geneva Motor Show this year. We first saw the vehicle in January at the North American International Auto Show.
Ford’s first-ever all-electric passenger car is a zero-emissions, fuel-free, version of the popular hatchback. It will be the flagship of the company’s growing fleet of hybrid and all-electric vehicles that will go on sale in Europe and North America by 2013.
The Focus Electric will be launched in Europe in the summer of 2012 and is designed to offer sufficient range to cover the majority of daily driving habits. The sleek and stylish five-door hatchback leverages Ford’s global C-car platform shared by the gasoline and diesel-engined models shortly to become available in Europe.
Focus Electric will introduce new features and technologies – including a unique version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system especially for electric vehicles supporting the driver in enjoying driving in the most efficient way.
The all-electric powertrain and single-speed transmission provide immediate responsiveness and smooth acceleration when the driver depresses the accelerator, up to a top speed of 84 mph.Much of Focus Electric’s steering, handling and braking feel is shared with the agile and sporty fuel-powered Focus models. At the same time, the absence of a petrol or diesel engine, combined with the outstanding aerodynamics of Focus, lead to a remarkably quiet, comfortable in-car experience.
Future owners of the Focus Electric will likely recharge the car’s lithium-ion battery pack at home on a daily basis, using the 230-volt convenience cord that comes with the vehicle. When plugged in, the Focus Electric on-board charger converts AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the liquid-cooled/heated battery pack within 8-9 hours, using a standard wall plug, and 5-6 hours using a dedicated charging box. Further more, the powerful on-board charging equipment can charge the Focus Electric in just 3-4 hours if the car is plugged in to an appropriate public charging station.
Focus Electric owners will be provided with a suite of driver information systems – on-board and off-board – designed to help them manage the recharge process, manage the most eco-friendly route on-board, monitor battery state of charge and maximize energy efficiency to optimize their driving range. This carefully engineered set of tools is designed to give Focus Electric the edge over competitive products, providing new electric vehicle owners the information they need to enjoy all the freedom fuel-free driving has to offer.
Among these tools is a unique execution of MyFord Touch driver connect technology. Thoughtfully developed for electric vehicle owners, it offers innovative presentation of vehicle information, such as battery state of charge, 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.
Just as the growing leafy vine of first-generation SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide represents fuel efficiency in the Ford Fusion Hybrid in the US, the cluster display in the 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 designers were inspired by the phenomenon known as “the butterfly effect,” in which a small change, like 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 fuel savings achieved by driving electric.
The new Focus Electric offers a unique value charging feature for owners in the U.S., powered by Microsoft, to help charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates, lowering the cost of ownership.
The tool is designed to help customers avoid unnecessary expense by providing an optimized charge. In the future, these smart charging habits will help utility companies understand and better manage the demands placed upon the electric grid because of electrified vehicles. Focus Electric owners are likely to handle one of the vehicle’s charge cord connectors two or more times each day. That’s why Ford worked with supplier Yazaki to provide an industry-standard five-point plug that is ergonomically comfortable to hold as well as durably and distinctively designed.
The plug handle uses a matte-finished black rubber that allows for a comfortable, non-slip grip. The plug head is shielded with a protective glossy white plastic.
When the cord connector is plugged into the vehicle’s charge port, conveniently located between the driver’s door and front wheel arch, it activates a light ring that loops around the port twice in acknowledgement of connectivity. The light ring then illuminates in quadrants as the vehicle charges. Flashing quadrants represent charge in progress and solid-lit quadrants show stages of charge completion. In the unlikely event of a fault, the entire ring will flash. When the entire ring is solidly lit, the vehicle is fully charged.
Focus Electric will be powered by an advanced lithium-ion battery system engineered by Ford in cooperation with supplier LG Chem. The battery system utilises heated and cooled liquid to help maximise battery life and fuel-free driving range.
Thermal management of lithium-ion battery systems is critical to the success of pure electric vehicles. Focus Electric uses an advanced active liquid cooling and heating system to precondition and regulate the temperature in its larger, more complex lithium-ion 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.