This is the new Ford Focus Electric, not a baby Aston Martin Rapide.This isn’t a Detroit reveal – no, the Ford Focus Electric was unveiled to the world at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This isn’t Ford’s first electric vehicle of course, as those honors go to the Ford Transit Connect EV, but it will be its first passenger car EV. It will be launched for sale in late 2011.
In a market where there’s options such as the Nissan Leaf EV and the Chevrolet Volt range extended EV, naturally Ford has made comparisons with its competitors in its initial press release. For one, Ford says a full recharge will take just 3 to 4 hours at home with the 240V charge station, half the charge time of the Leaf, which takes 8 hours to charge at 240V.
I’m very curious though as to how Ford managed a 4 hour charge time – does the shorter charge time affect battery longevity? Is Ford using better technology? Some technical details would be nice, but these are typically only available from the experts at the launch event. But I can make an educated guess. A 240V 60A 6kW charger (Level 2) should technically be able to charge the Nissan Leaf’s 24kWh battery in 4 hours, but the Leaf’s internal battery management limits the charging to 3.3kW to limit the amount of heat generated during charging as the Leaf’s battery has no active cooling.
Ford’s battery pack however does have active cooling, so it could be using the full 6kW power. The lithium-ion battery system was engineered by Ford with LG Chem and it uses heated and cooled liquid to help maximize battery life. According to Ford, thermal management of lithium-ion battery systems is critical to the success of EVs. The active cooling and heating system heats or chills a coolant before pumping it through the battery cooling system.
Charging the battery pack is via an industry standard 5-point plug supplied by Yazaki. The charge port is located between the driver’s door and front wheel well. A light ring around the port is activated to acknowledge a proper charger connection. The light ring lluminates in quadrants as the vehicle charges. Flashing quadrants represent charge in progress and solid-lit quadrants show stages of charge completion. If something goes wrong, the entire ring flashes, and when the car is fully charged, the entire ring lights up solidly.
We don’t really have any information on the electric motor and we expect this to be unveiled only towards the end of the year closer to the launch date, but we do know the Focus Electric goes up to a top speed of 136km/h. Doesn’t sound like the Focus Electric is going to be a very brisk machine, but it’s certainly going to be very silent and economical!