Later this year, Ford will roll out the Focus Electric, Detroit's first direct competitor to the Nissan Leaf. Like the Leaf, the Focus Electric is an all-electric five-door hatchback with a 600-plus-pound lithium-ion battery, a driving range of close to 100 miles on a charge, and a price tag north of $35,000. Unlike the Leaf, the Focus Electric is not a purpose-built EV; it looks almost identical to the gas-powered Focus, which is manufactured on the same Michigan assembly line. How will the Focus Electric compare? We drove one of the first road-ready specimens to find out.
We spent an afternoon in New York assessing the Focus Electric's highway acceleration, hill-climbing power and agility while weaving through dense city traffic.
The Focus accelerates quickly, grips the road firmly, and handles precisely even on sharp, fast turns that would shake the less-sporty Leaf. The interior is equipped with plush, finely grained seats that are a major upgrade over the Leaf's entry-level upholstery, and the cabin is nearly silent. Because Ford installed a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger, the Focus charges twice as fast as the Leaf. But unlike its gas-powered, best-selling brethren, the Focus Electric is far from a mass-market car. Analysts expect Ford to build no more than 2,500 Focus Electrics in the first year—just enough to comply with zero-emissions regulations in California. (In contrast, Nissan could build as many as 60,000 Leafs this year.) It's priced like a boutique item, too. The Focus Electric starts at $39,200: $4,000 more than the Leaf and $20,900 more than a gas-powered Focus. In fact, the biggest problem with the Focus Electric is how hard Ford has made it to buy one.
Range: 76 miles
Charge time: 4 hours
Price: $39,200 (plus delivery)
May we please just go back to a cheap, electric light rail system? All of these batteries that are going to end up in landfills will be worse than what we have now... and that's assuming there was a magical asteroid that comes flying along to give us cheap metals... something seems a little off when you try to build an entire mass transit system out of *rare* earth metals and tout it as the salvation to our transportation crisis...
Why anyone would want one of these or any other all-electric car is beyond me. A 76-mile range for $39K? Forget it. What would you use if for?
Use it for everything local--unless you live in spread out LA which is nuts anytime. Charge is with solar roof panels and save the earth. But it's too pricey for sure which the manufacturers are all trying to get Congress to pay it the $7500 rebate by pricing the cars $7500 more than they are worth.
Considering that the gas focus costs about $20,000 or half the electric version--and the gasoline engine drive train including transmission, engine, tank, exhaust pipes, emission equipment, etc costs far more than the electric engine that propels the Focus EV--then your saying the batteries cost MORE than $20,000.
That's nut and it's not true which the batteries cost under $14,000.
So therefore it's easy to surmise that the manufacturers are over charging about $7500 to try and snag that $7500 rebate for themselves from buyers who are suckers.
Why don't they design these with removable batteries? Instead of gas/charging stations, we could have battery exchange centers. I'd keep an extra set of batteries charged at home.
I agree with gixmowiz - at first glance, the pricing seems overly padded. But it is a nice car - MUCH better than the LEAF.
Love, Peace & Soul
I agree that cars should have removable batteries, like cell phones and portable computers should. But I can't imagine being able to swap out a 600-pound battery array as easily as you can fill up a gasoline-powered car.
At a real world 76 miles I could use it. The cheap Federal Office I work at is too lazy and cheap to put in any sort of charging stations. I even offered to pay for them.
All this technology is like any first attempt. Consider how long it took to get simple devices working. TV's to cell phones took decades.
A large part of the cost is not that the components are expensive, it's that they are not being built on the scale of the current tech.
The economy of scale would reduce the cost of most EV's to closer to current car prices. However without more infrastructure the large manufacturers are unwilling to convert their fleets over to a Auto type that not everyone is buying. once the demand and production ramps up (most likely when they can get a 200+ MPC (miles per charge) Battery pack out there) the price will drop quickly.
Alypuppy: Batteries are made from Lithium. It is one of the more abundant materials in the earth ( 25th most abundant overall in the crust...about the same as lead and nickel. )
If you mean the magnets, there are alternatives to neodymium, it is just the best we know of so far. Oh, and of course, your light rail system would use a lot of neodymium as well.
Nandrews: That's what a lot of proponents want, but you have to first standardize batteries. Look how well that has gone for cell phones. Thanks to companies like Apple and Sony, it is exceedingly difficult to get things standardized. We shall see though.
mitEJ: Yes and no. The Tesla Roadster far surpasses your 200+ MPC pack at 300-350 MPC. The pack costs around the same price as the ford focuses, because they picked the most common battery out there. Get a generic laptop, crack open the battery pack and you'll find around 6 round batteries in it...that is the battery Tesla chose. It's not the lightest or most compact design...but for the price, you can cram the most in.
That being said, the Tesla Roadster, even the cheaper Model S are still way out there. They're starting with more expensive cars, allowing them to experiment a lot more, and working their way down to a cheaper mass-production car. So, it'll be a few years before we see a viable car from them.
Ford is doing the same thing these companies have been doing for awhile now: The Ford Focus Electric is just an experimental car for Ford to keep ready. When the time comes to change to electric, they want to make sure they are ready. However, they don't want to have to make massive changes to their company, factories, etc. until they have to. As such, they make the focus ( and previous electric ), a minimal proof of concept design, and sold at a high price.
If Tesla can put out a 250-350 MPC car for the very first car they build...you can bet Ford could have done a lot better than 76 miles if they wanted to. You'll also notice the range is just a hair better than that of the Nissan Leaf. You can bet they designed it that way.
So, in summary: Sit back and watch Tesla. When they put out a sub 20,000 car in probably 5-10 years, things will change fast. Until then, don't expect anything much.
Were you reading??? . . . . This is not a laptop.
Tell me this, how do you change a "600-plus-pound lithium-ion battery"???? . . . perhaps they could bundle a fork lift with the car?
menoc: Battery swap stations have been discussed (and occasionally implemented) for years. Yes, they need infrastructure and a suitable car design, but it's quite feasible:
Too powerful, too heavy. This model needs to have an aluminium or carbon fibre body, a much less powerful motor (~70bhp)and a range of about 200 miles. It needs to be rechargeable from domestic sockets as well. Gut wrenching acceleration is not an option; safe, sensible motoring is.
Please see this:
Batteries with 10 times the capacity of todays best that charge 10 times faster!!
This would give the Electric Focus a range of 760 miles!!
The recharge time of 24 Minutes!
And the designers say that this is just the begining.
Checked out the Tesla Shop in Park Meadows, looks like they are pushing a 24,000 car with some rather nice upgrade options. I can only assume that the cheaper sub-20k cars are on their way in the next few years. Thankfully electric motors are some of the simplest motors ever, requiring little in the way of intensive manufacturing processes and maintenance. It's the power storage system that needs time and technology to make these kinds of vehicles flourish.
Until we have a "quick charge ultra-capacitance" system and infrastructure in place, humanity just isn't ready to adopt the electric car.
Also what we need are smarter construction materials for the frames, and a general change in the way that people drive. For instance lighter materials = less powerful motor. Less powerful motor = slower acceleration = less wasted energy.
The problem in this equation is the slower acceleration. Perhaps capacitors that charge from breaking can help balance this out. My point being that the problems EV's face is not immense, it is just that the existing infrastructure is designed around chemical engines with wasteful acceleration engines.
I was with you until you said 142hp would provide "Gut wrenching acceleration." I think the term is "peppy" as opposed to molasses.
When the first cars were built.
The manufactures had to demonstrate
the practicality of the car.
One of the test was that of endurance.
Could the car get us across the state.
and eventually the country.
The electric car is ready for it's metamorphosis
Free to roam city streets under the power
of its on board battery.
But when its time for highway travel.
The car straddles a powered rail.
The rail puts out phased voltages.
That make high speed and endurance
The rail guides the car under computer control.
With Spoken command or gesture.
The onboard computer is capable of driving to
its programmed destination.
With a guidance system keeping the car
Freeing the driver of the need to drive.
While on the rail the car is supported by
high efficiency bearings.
Dismissing the rolling resistance that
is made with a tires traction.
The car could be powered by any heat source.
Gas, oil, wind, geo thermo and yes garbage.
Oil would only be a bidder and not a monopoly.
Battery sizes could be smaller.
With recharging going on as the car travels
on the rail.
The right of ways exist.
And the system could tier with our highways.
A dedicate electric lane.
In most cases no real need for recharge
If you live within a reasonable distance from
This is possible in the here and now.
The event of major new markets would jolt
And expand market size.
Where is the vision??
Why would anyone want this when Tesla Motors will have their economy car that offers twice the distance per charge at near or lower prices?