The Ford Focus BEV is getting a lot of action. Versions of the all-electric sedan are spending time on the Jay Leno Show smashing into (cardboard cut outs) of Al Gore and Ed Begley, Jr. It's also making the rounds of auto shows and promotional events around the country. Starting next year, the car will also be available to a small number of drivers in the UK. We got our first drive in the BEV when it made it's important debut last January at the Detroit Auto Show, and caught up with it again out in LA last week. As a reminder, the Focus EV uses a 23.8 kWh battery pack and uses 19 kWh of that to get a range of 100 miles. When we drove around the LA Convention Center, the car had gone 43 miles that day and still had 40 percent charge left in the tank.
We found out that the car might be too busy to accurately show the outside world what it is capable of. With only about ten electric Focuses in existence – five engineering vehicles, plus two show cars (pictured), plus the few that Leno has – they are always in use. The Leno cars and the engineering development vehicles are upgraded from what was revealed in January, but the cars that the public sees at shows are what was unveiled 11 months ago. Ford's public affairs department wants the updated cars, but they're using the show vehicles too much to let the engineers upgrade them. An upgrade would take around four weeks, and there just isn't any time in the schedule for that.
One example of the upgrade are the sounds one can hear coming from the electric vacuum pump that provides vacuum assist to the brake system. On the vehicle we drove, this was noticeable when we were stopped, but on the Leno vehicle and the development cars, this sound has been isolated. The Leno vehicles also have had their ride and handling improved, we were told.
Ford is not really looking at leasing the battery pack, figuring that people will want to pay straight up for the car and pack. While no final decision has been made – they'll offer the car however the customers say they want it – the goal right now is to reduce the cost of the powertrain as much as possible while keeping it safe and being able to warranty it for ten years or 150,000 miles. From what we can see, everything's on track and we look forward to the 2010 Detroit Auto Show to learn more.