Permanent-Magnet All-Electric Traction / LG supplied 23kwh Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
Single Speed Auto
If your daily commute is longer than 110km roundtrip, you can click here to read about the Jaguar XJL, a spectacular car for long trips. However, if the distance you travel every single day is less than the distance mentioned above, you might want to check out the “poor man’s Tesla”; the all new 2015 Ford Focus Electric.
Available at more than 900 Ford EV Certified dealers throughout North America, the battery operated Focus will set you back $35,449 before taxes and fees, but it is eligible for the sweet government rebates that go up to eight grand or so. In Ontario, it also gets a “Green Vehicle” plate so you get some extra perks, like driving solo in the HOV lanes when permitted.
What you get for the money is a car that looks just like a regular Focus until you open the trunk or pop the hood. The reason for that is the total absence of a gas engine and a trunk full of batteries. Power to the front wheels is provided by a permanent-magnet all-electric traction motor, that outputs the equivalent of 143 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque. And just like the Tesla Model S, it is mated to a single speed automatic gearbox.
Charging time varies between 3.6 hours (super charger 240-volt) and 20 hours (residential 120-volt plug), depending on the voltage of the energy source and ambient temperature. The cool thing about it is that you can set up what the car refers to as “value charge”, that makes it wait till the off-peak rates are in effect before it starts charging. Many publicly available parking lots now offer spots with charging stations, so it is more than possible now days to have your car charge-up while you work, shop, eat or travel.
Inside the cabin, there is nothing suggesting that this is not a proper car. The dash is well made, soft to the touch materials have been used for the most parts, fit and finish is well done and ergonomically everything is in perfect order. The instrument cluster is missing a rev-counter, but has plenty of EV related stuff for you to play with, like the brake coach and acceleration vs coasting meter; little things that teach you how to efficiently drive your EV. Of course, the SYNC system packs all your entertainment, communication and navigation features into an intuitive and easy to use system, just like in any other Ford.
The rear seats are roomy and comfortable, offering great headroom and decent legroom, but the trunk is where the deal might break for many potential buyers. The LG supplied 23 kwh lithium-ion battery pack takes up most of the space, leaving you with very little to work with. You’ll be lucky if you can fit anything more than a couple of grocery bags and an extension cord.
On the road, the electron driven Focus is a lot of fun to drive, as its driving dynamics are not spoiled by the extra weight. Let me kindly remind you that the Focus was actually the first compact hatchback available with multilink rear suspension, so handling is very high in the firm’s priority list. The steering is quick and precise, there is very little body roll, and once you get used to the feeling of the regenerative brakes, you can have lots of fun. Throttle response is immediate and pulling power is impressive, so don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a boring car. On the contrary, the extra weight in the back makes the car very interesting to drive. Zero to 100km/h comes in 10.5 seconds and will continue accelerating at the same pace to the top speed of 150km/h. The brakes feel weird and are not as effective as on its petrol powered siblings, and as such take a bit longer to stop the car. From 100km/h, it took 49m to stop.
The real life range, depends on how controlled you are as a driver. If you have a short fuse and take it out on the “gas” pedal, expect the range to drop pretty quickly. While trying really hard to squeeze out every single bit of energy, I was able to get about 150km out of a single charge, driving in the city and at +20C. Driving normally and with my heavy foot liberated from restricted movements, I depleted the batteries after only 90km, so expect the real life range to be very close to the officially claimed number of 122km (76 miles).
In an EV, one of the biggest challenges is to make the interior rattle free and the suspension soft and quiet, just so that the car doesn’t sound like its about to fall apart. Not having an engine to make some noise, allows you to hear every single other thing that produces an audible soundtrack, including the friction from the brakes, the sound of the rolling wheels, the motors that lift the windows, even the power steering and transmission coupling can sometimes be heard. Luckily, the Focus feels very robust and even over harsh surfaces, the suspension soaks up most of the impacts silently and with remarkable refinement. Wind noise on the highway is not a problem either, so in general the Focus scores high marks when it comes to comfort and smoothness.
The price is not too high, the range is not too great, but as a car the electric Focus is a great achievement. Not because it is spectacular, but because it drives like a regular car and it can be a daily driver that actually saves you money on gas. Car washes will be more expensive for you since you won’t be putting any gas and if you do buy one, make sure you get a fast charger.
Cheap to run