The Ford electric car contender is based on their Focus, and I have to say, it seems to be doing its best to blend in.
The only way you could distinguish the Ford Focus Electric from the regular gas-guzzling Ford Focus, apart from the illuminated plug-in circle instead of a gas cap, is that the electric model is a bit heavier and a bit peppier than its fire-breathing double. Otherwise, they're pretty much the same car.
How's that for stealth?
Ford Focus Electric Features
Ford Electric Car Basics
100% Electric. Ford is not putting out training-wheels electric cars, but the real thing: 100% all electric cars. I think this says, "commitment".
23 kwh lithium-ion battery system. Of course. Oh, by the way...this is roughly the same size battery pack as the Nissan Leaf.
Single speed transmission. More and more, this is what you see when the major automakers build an electric car. It's just the way electric motors work most efficiently.
Regenerative braking. Because why not? The AC motor/controller makes this a no-brainer. But here's something even better: clever use of technology in this Ford electric car actually teaches you how to use the regen braking to its best advantage.
Solar Panels. (Not on the car, no. At your house.) Ford is offering a 2.5 kwh solar powered charging station with your new Ford electric car for about $10,000, which I would think you'd be able to finance at the same time you buy the car. Think "free fuel for life" might sell a Ford electric car or two? I do, too.
Ford Electric Car Built With Green Materials
How stupid would you have to be to build new electric cars nowadays with baby seal leather seats and petrol-based foam for sound deadening? Um, yeah. But not to worry, Ford has sidestepped this pothole with a fairly comprehensive snout-to-tail use of green materials in this new Ford Focus Electric. For example...
Recycled pop bottles and milk jugs. For the plastic bits. Of which there are a ton on a new car.
Resins. To reduce the use of oil-based plastics.
Soy-based foam in the seats. Huh. I wonder what happens if you're allergic to soy, and your seat springs a leak?...oh, probably nothing.
Lignotock. Instead of the aforementioned petroleum-based foam for sound deadening, you know, that furry stuff that you find down inside the doors that you have to push around to install your new oversized speakers? Right.
Well, instead of that stuff, this Ford electric car has lignotock, which they say is a wood fiber-based sound deadening material that's lightweight and sustainable. Sounds good to me.
Ford Electric Car Technology
This part is really cool, or really creepy, depending on how old you are. More than Toyota, Chevy, or Nissan, Ford has really leaned heavily on the opportunity to use new technology in electric cars, no doubt reasoning that anyone who is likely to buy an electric car is also likely to be comfortable with a high level of connectivity.
Great, but we also use our cars for privacy in this increasingly un-private world. I guess "a few minutes away from Big Brother" is not an option in the new Ford electric car. Not that I'm complaining.
SmartGauge: the touchscreen in the dashboard. Because there are not nearly enough things to concentrate on out there on your commute, Ford has helpfully added a little computer screen with widgets and butterflies. Yes, butterflies. (I'll get to those shortly.) The point is, shouldn't I be watching the road? SmartGauge, one word, trademark, includes...
Charging Status Display. Way more than a simple state of charge meter. It's got stuff like "value charging", your charging profile (there's the creepy thing again), and Ready to Go Times, whatever that is. Date, time and temperature seems to figure in somehow.
Efficiency Coach. If you've been driving gas-guzzlers, it's a bit of an adjustment to get the most out of your new EV. Upon hearing various Car and Driver reporters whining about the range of the Nissan Leaf, Ford decided to take matters into their own hands and install a little hands-on tutorial for their drivers. We'll see if this thoughtfulness translates into less whining.
Energy Flow Status. Consists of a picture you can watch where your battery electrons flow one way while you're accelerating, then the other way while you're braking. I really can't figure out why they bothered.
Charging point maps.
Emotive display. This is the butterfly bit. Don't get me wrong, I think it looks cool as hell, but - really? I'll quote directly from the Ford electric car website, since they said it better than I ever could. "When you're driving in a way that adds to the range of your vehicle, butterfly graphics will appear on the screen, giving you confidence that you can reach your destination." The density of butterflies on the screen means you're doing it right. Trouble with that? Even if you hypermile perfectly, you will still run out of charge. How are you supposed to feel when you've done everything right and you've STILL managed to make all your butterflies die?
MyFord Mobile: the EV app for your smartphone. So you can check your charging status remotely, locate your car (I could have used this one at the mall last week, let me tell you), and locate charging stations. Less essential to driving but more essential to self-congratulation? The app also lets you know how much CO2 you're not emitting and how much money you're saving with your new eco-friendly driving habits. Yay me.
Bottom line? I like it. I think Ford has paid attention and actually gone Nissan and Chevy one better with all the clever use of new electric car technology, if they didn't already have you at "free fuel forever and ever", which...yeah, they had me there. Oh, and I'll be grateful when someone develops the "stop looking over my shoulder" app for the SmartGauge. Thank you.