This is a guest post from a US automotive blogger about the Electric Ford Focus (that is not yet available in Australia). I find these reviews particularly interesting as it seems more and more that the US is leading the charge in electric cars with excellent productions such as the Tesla Model S — Steve
With the ever-increasing cost of fuel, it’s tempting to dream of a world where cars run on nothing more than good intentions. While the 2013 Electric Ford Focus isn’t quite that eco-friendly, it does promise to balance the needs of the Earth with the realities of the family budget. Does it hit the mark? Find out below.
Battery Power Isn’t Cheap
If you’re looking to make the switch to electric, the 2013 Ford Focus might give you a bit of sticker shock. With an MSRP of $39,200 US (~ $37,400 AUD), the electrified version of the Focus is nearly three times the cost of the base model.
Of course, electric vehicles are expensive for a reason. A 23kW-hr lithium ion battery pack isn’t cheap, nor are the other electric Focus components such as the electric motor, regenerative braking system, battery cooling and heating system, plug-in charging system, etc. Still, for all of the expensive electronics, the payoff is that your electrified Focus won’t ever need a drop of gasoline. For about $35 USD a month, you’ll be able to drive 1200 miles (1930 km).
What’s more, the US government rules offer electric Ford Focus buyers a one-time $7500 tax credit, further reducing the cost of ownership.
Aside from the electric power system, the 2013 Electric Focus is nearly the same as the gasoline-powered model. Ford has integrated some energy management features into the standard MyFord Touch system, allowing drivers to map the most economical route, locate any charging stations along the way, and project how much energy will be left in the battery at the end of the trip. As you would expect, these standard features are included to try and suppress concerns about “range anxiety,” a fact of life with any electric-only vehicle.
While no one purchases a standard Ford Focus expecting to go fast, the 2013 Electric Focus is hardly exciting to drive. While the vehicle sports a good torque rating – 184-ft-lbs (about 250 Nm), almost all of which is available at idle – acceleration is hardly inspiring. The best review has shown a 0 to 60mph (0 to 96 km/hr) time of 9.5 seconds, which is 2 seconds slower than the stock gasoline-powered Focus.
The issue? A 3,692 lbs (1,675 kg) curb weight. That’s a hefty 600 lbs (272 kg) more than a Prius, and nearly 800 lbs (363 kg) more than the standard Focus. Much of this weight represents a liquid heating and cooling system for the Focus’s batteries, why by itself weights nearly 300 lbs (136 kg).
If the portly nature of the Electric Focus has a benefit, it’s that the electrified version rides a little more smoothly than the standard Focus. As for handling, the low-slung battery pack helps to lower move the center of gravity, which means this heavy little car handles about as well as the standard Focus (even with the low rolling resistance tires).
Range and Charge
The 2013 Electric Focus has a range of 76 miles (122 km), powered by a 23 kW-hr lithium-ion battery. The battery pack can require up to 20 hours to charge from a standard household 120-volt outlet, but using a 240-volt outlet the car can charge in as little as 4 hours.
Additionally, most reviews have found that the stated range of the Electric Ford Focus is accurate, even when the vehicle is driven in a less-than-efficient manner. Perhaps fears of an “estimated range scandal” – which recently effected sales of GM’s Chevy Volt – have persuaded Ford to under-estimate the range of the Electric Focus.
In March 2012, the EPA crowned the Focus Electric the most fuel-efficient compact car sold in the United States. With a city fuel economy rating of 99 mpg (42 km/l), the Electric Focus is 2-3 times more fuel efficient than the average compact.
However, the “green-ness” of the 2013 Ford Focus depends on where you charge it. If the electricity used to charge the Focus comes from solar or wind power – or even a clean-burning natural gas power plant – the environmental benefits of the electric powertrain are substantial compared to gasoline.
However, charging the Electric Focus in an area that relies upon a coal-fired power plant is a different story, as the difference in pollution between gasoline and electricity from a coal power plant is debatable. Some argue that a gasoline-powered hybrid is better for the environment in these areas.
Still, when it comes right down to it, you don’t have to be a tree-hugging hippie to appreciate the 2013 Electric Ford Focus. Forbes called the plug-in sedan “a Tesla Model S for the middle class,” a technologically advanced and eco-friendly commuter car at a relatively affordable price.
This article was written by Jason Lancaster, a former auto dealership employee with nearly 10 years of automotive experience and editor of AccurateAutoAdvice.com