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Ford Focus Electric

September 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Auto


Ford Focus ElectricDriving an electric vehicle isn’t for everyone. More accurately, it’s for a select few. Case in point: the Ford Focus Electric, Ford’s first fully electric car.

Here is, for all intents and purposes, a solid electric vehicle: it’s attractive, drives well, and of course — its raison d’être — emits zero carbon emissions. But who’s going to drive it?

Commuters? Unlikely. Regular travellers? Nope. Single-car households? You’d run into problems. I could rhyme off the figures — like its 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, which produces 143 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque — but that doesn’t really matter. This car is for the established eco-minded urbanite, plain and simple.

Those drivers are already aware of the perks — like kissing gas stations goodbye — but also of the sizable commitments. Specifically, that pesky phrase: “range anxiety.” The thoughts that are constantly at the forefront of any electric driver’s mind are similar to the uncertainties you may experience when your cellphone drops into the red. How far do I need to go? Can I get there and back on the remaining charge? When will I be able to charge up again?

While its advertised 160-kilometre range may seem substantial, those numbers take a hit based on weather, driving style and feature use, such as heating and air conditioning. Ford tries to mitigate these concerns via several elements. The charming “butterfly effect” driving coach, for one, helps optimize mileage, acting like a game; butterflies increasingly appear the more economically you drive, challenging drivers to improve efficiency. As well, the car features regenerative breaking to extend battery life. But the trump card is an optional 240-volt home charging station. The standard 120-V charger takes the Focus Electric from empty to fully charged in roughly 20 hours. The 240-V station, on the other hand, will do it in three to four hours — far less than its rival, the ultramodern Nissan Leaf. It’s certainly convenient, but Ford notes that this aggressive charging will decrease battery capacity over time — a further sacrifice that drivers must contend with.

But, again, for eco-minded drivers, this may not be a concern. It may not matter that the Ford Focus doesn’t actually save you money (they aren’t cheap, starting at over $37,000), that battery life will linger on your mind or that forgetting to plug it in may leave you stranded. The Focus Electric is for established green lifestyles and its drivers are willing to pay the price. If you understand the cost and are willing to adjust to its parameters, this electric car is a stylish option.

Specifications: Ford Focus Electric

Engine: 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery
Horsepower: 143
Torque: 184 pound-feet
Range: Up to 160 kilometres
Options: 240-volt recharge station (three- to four-hour recharge time)
MSRP: $37,477


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