• Dec 8th 2009 at 7:54PM
  • 27
Ford Focus BEV- Click above for high-res image gallery

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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I find it amazing that Ford can utilize 19 KWh of a 24KWh battery or 80%, with no ill effect, when GM engineering utilizes 50% of the 16 Kwh battery, so as to attain the 150,000 miles or 10 year warranty lifetime in the Volt. Someone's engineering design is either too audacious or too conservative.

      If Ford is correct , the Volt AER could be safely increased to about 48 miles. This would increase the percentage of the population never needing to run the motor generator daily, from 78% to over 90%. of the US population. Or the battery size could be reduced to 13 KWh, cutting cost and price. If GM is correct, the Ford battery will never last the warranty period, or the Ford doesn't really have even 72 miles of city range in virtually ideal circumstances.

      Use in a BEV is harder on a battery than its use in a carefully controlled EREV installation. The overall weights so the two, Focus vs Volt should be about the same. The Ford battery is bigger and about 225 lbs heavier than the Volt's; but the Volt has a small engine generator that should weigh about 250-300 lbs. So its almost a wash.

      But the crude range estimate of 72 miles is disturbing, as that is realistically no where near enough, except as a city car.

        • 5 Years Ago
        This goes back to a previous argument. The issue is the total battery size of the Volt is smaller. So for their battery, the max range they can go is 80 miles using 100% of the battery (assuming 8kWh for 40 miles as it is said to be currently). 80 miles * 1000 cycles = 80k miles. So they need to use a smaller portion to extend life. The Focus is ~100 miles if using 100% of the battery (all 23.8kWh), 100*1000 cycles = 100k miles. Ford probably has a 10-90% charge cycle to extend life. Also, a bigger pack allows lower discharge current which also extends life. Another possibility is to be like Tesla and have a "range" mode that allows you to do the 90% charge and a normal mode that only charges to 80% to extend battery life.

        Also the Volt's driving cycle is different. It needs the lower 30% buffer so that the range extender has enough buffer to drive the car in situations like steep hills. In the Focus you don't care about that since there is no range extender.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stan,
        Battery technology is in a state of flux at the moment and there are a whole variety of different chemistries about which all come under the heading lithium but have very different characteristics.
        From memory another company, BMW I believe, is also using a battery which can use 80% of capacity without ill effects.
        At some stage of the design you have to go firm and as GM was under time pressure they may have done so with these batteries too soon.
        By 2015 Nissan reckon they can do batteries with twice current densities, which is another ball game again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not trying to discredit anything you said, but for the EREV you have to also take into account the weight & cost of the gas, tank, exhaust and anything else that's needed to accurately compare the two.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Ford is not really looking at leasing the battery pack, figuring that people will want to pay straight up for the car and pack."

      Or include it in the car lease. Wow, options!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can it accelerate? How many KW can the battery put out? Range is fine, but not if I have to drive at 30 MPH and take a minute to accelerate to that from a stop.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I concur with 3piece. Though I do think they are skimping on the size of the pack. Since this is the beginning I won't be to hard on them for it.

        My car has a 35 kwh pack of which only 80% is utilized. I have gone 133 miles and 70% of the trip was at 55 mph with the AC running.

        Looks like on the test runs around LA stadium the Ford EV is going to go about 83 miles the way it is being driven. It is probably driven pretty hard as most people want to see how fast it picks up. Having said that I bet the striaght stretch allows you to only get up to 50 mph tops for safety on a closed track.

        My electric vacuum pump is pretty loud on my car.

        http://www.evalbum.com/1892
        • 5 Years Ago
        It has a 100kW electric motor so performance should be pretty good, 10 seconds 0-60 and quicker off the line than anything else as you have full torque from 0 rpm and no gear changes.

      • 5 Years Ago
      "Starting next year, the car will also be available to a small number of drivers in the UK. "

      Great. Nice going Ford. Can't wait to try it out.....pfff.

      In similar news,

      "Starting next year, the Nissan Leaf will be SOLD in the U.S."

      I really could care less if U.S. car companies go bankrupt at this point, they deserve it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This article is so fawning it is astounding. And it even manages to backfill for any perceived shortcomings. See, the car is just so awesome that they can't even get them in the shop to make them more awesomer.

      Come on AB, this kinda makes it look like you'll buy anything a marketing department will tell you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree.

        "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."

        I've NEVER heard a salesman ask to keep trying to sell the same thing he tried to sell last week. They always want you to add something, anything... they'd fly a crew wherever and have the engineers making the mods WHILE they're trying to sell it, and bill it as a "live demo" of their technical know-how.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jeez, don't you ever stop whining? If it ain't about your beloved GM you start to cry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I really hope that Ford can make it a mass produced car. They would really go places with it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "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."

      If it takes 60% of the battery capacity to go 43 miles, the range would be 72 miles.

      And in L.A., one can assume that's at low city speeds (where BEVs excel) with the heater off.

      On a cold winter day here in Rhode Island with all season tires and the heat blasting, I wonder if this car will achieve a 50 mile range.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Try wearing a hat and gloves.

        A friend of mine is an electrical engineer who works on the charger module for (among other related products) the Aptera. He owns (and commutes in) a NEV that could only generously be described as a glorified grounds truck. Its only heater is his scarf, and having ridden along with him, it's better than riding a motorcycle in the same weather.

        That said, living in Canada, I've always marveled at the near pointlessness of having a heater in a car that takes 10 or 15 minutes to warm the car up. Your feet tend to get pretty cold on long drives without one (been there, done that), but 100 miles isn't exactly a long drive, is it?
      harlanx6
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hatchbacks are very popular, and I can't figure out whatever possessed Ford to be so weak in that segment. Hopefully they have seen the light.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        @letstakeawalk
        Don't be silly. Hatchbacks are not SUVs or CUVs, nor are they station wagons. Ford makes a lot of tall fat ugly car models for the US market, but no hatchbacks.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatchback
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Oops, forgot the Edge.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Perhaps you're ignoring the hatchbacks that Ford sells: Focus, Escape, Flex, Explorer, Expedition. Ford has a full line of vehicles designed for carrying stuff equipped with a fifth-door "hatchback".


      • 5 Years Ago
      The companies that don't actually prepare for the future will be buried by it, unless there's a government bailout.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope they get to things like closing down most of the grill (for better aero), and put an belly pan on it, too. I appreciate their efforts to just getting a EV car out, but it would help to at least tweak the chassis and body that were set up for an ICE.

      Sincerely, Neil
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point about the grill and underbelly. I believe the Leaf has a opening in the grill also. Maybe they want air to get in there. The Leafs motor and battery is water cooled and since they shouldn't need to much cooling as little heat is produced is does make one wonder why the opening, unless it helps with aerodynamics. A belly pan would be in order for both cars on the under side.
      • 5 Years Ago
      No, No, we want the new version of the Focus. This is the old ugly model. The one below is the new Focus 5 door hatch ST model. Been waiting for this to finally get here in the US from their EU stable. Has the new Direct Injection engine and supposed to have a DSG type tranny Im hearing. Maybe a turbo version.

      http://jalopnik.com/photogallery/focusstfacelift/1000153952

        • 5 Years Ago
        We're getting the global version for the BEV. Hopefully they don't do something to mess up the look. The current version US only version is the ugliest Focus out of the bunch. Hopefully they can get the price down to a reasonable level.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The present European Focus (C1 platform) and the North American Focus (the older C170 platform) will be both be replaced with the "global C" platform. The production Focus BEV will be built in Wayne, Michigan on the global C platform in 2011. In contrast, the BEV shown in the photo above is a C170, while Leno shows off a BEV based on the European C1. It's all confusing, but the production "global C" Focus BEV will certainly be different from either the C1 or the C170.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Similar to your neverending patience with GM.

      To some degree I agree though - they seldom get called-out here...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not sure what you're referring to, but either way I'm not an auto site.
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