By Joseph Tohill
December 2011 marked the first month Ford began production for its first electric vehicle: the Ford Focus Electric. And following its presentation at a series of auto shows around the world (including the DC Auto Show in January), Ford has generated quite a buzz for its first entry into the EV market.
What makes the Ford Focus Electric so special?
Well, for starters, Ford has really focused on making its first EV a top-notch piece of technology with all the bells and whistles of a premium automobile.
In the words of Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering: “It shares many of the same premium components and features as its gasoline-powered counterparts, while delivering distinct efficiencies and a uniquely exciting driving experience.”
About the Ford Focus Electric
The Ford Focus Electric is a five-door hatchback with a 100 kW (130 horsepower) motor under the hood. Much like its closest competitor, the Nissan Leaf, the Focus has a range of about 100 miles with its next generation lithium-ion battery. Unlike the Leaf, however, the Focus Electric can attain a full charge from a 240 volt charging station in about 3 – 4 hours, which is about half the time required to charge the Leaf.
Aside from its general EV specs, the Ford Focus features a highly modern interior with fabric entirely made from 100% post-consumer materials. It comes with a premium Sony audio system and activated voice control features.
Many of these features are optional upgrades for many vehicles – but for the Ford Focus Electric, they are part of the standard model. In fact, the only option for the Ford Focus Electric is for leather seats.
MyFord Driver Interface
However, the real gem of the Ford Focus Electric is the MyFord driver interface, which allows users to really connect with their EV and see their car as morethan a vehicle for personal transportation.
The MyFord interface provides comprehensive data and analysis on the Ford Focus electric driving experience. One of the things it does is provide users with real-time coaching advice so they can adjust their driving habits to maximize their car’s range.
For instance, the regenerative braking feature on the Focus Electric means that you can actually capture some of the energy normally lost through braking. The on-board coach tells you when you are breaking effectively and shows you how to maximize your breaking efficiency so you can save battery power.
After every trip, you can view stats on how much money you’ve saved on gas, how much CO2 you’ve avoided putting in the air, and what your braking score is, amongst other things. You can also connect with your EV remotely using the MyFord app, which gives you access to similar driving stats and allows you to charge your vehicle remotely.
Conclusion: A Precursor to Future Innovations in the EV Market
In the end, the Ford Focus Electric occupies a unique position in the auto market, as it combines the dynamics and quality of a traditional car with the cutting edge, emissions-free technology of an electric vehicle. And with the MyFord driver interface, Ford has provided Ford Focus Electric owners with the opportunity to turn their EV into more than a vehicle – it can become a complete EV ownership lifestyle.
But as advanced as the Ford Focus Electric may be, it presents only an early glimpse into the emerging EV economy. As automakers compete for the top spot in the EV market, we could be seeing some truly revolutionary emergences over the next few years.
Joseph Tohill is a freelance writer and online communications specialist for organizations in the sustainability sector. He has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia and spent most of his academic career studying sustainable urban development; namely the interdisciplinary relationship between built form and natural environment.