Ford Focus Electric Car Price $39,200 – Review and Test Drive

Ford Focus ElectricBy John Addison (updated 11/2/11)

Ford’s Newest EV is Official

Customers are now online placing their orders for the Ford Focus Electric with a starting MSRP price of $39,200. Since Ford is only planning on limited production in 2012, they can afford to price this electric car at $4,000 than the popular 2012 Nissan LEAF. The Focus Electric is fully $10,000 more than the smaller city electric Mitsubishi i.

Both the Focus Electric and Nissan LEAF are beautiful 5-door hatchbacks with passenger room and cargo flexibility that stretches their compact classification. Both have effective displays to select favorite music, navigate with dynamic maps to your preferred destination or nearest public charger. The LEAF display includes a back-up camera.

The Ford Focus Electric can be Level 2 charged at twice the speed of the 2012 Nissan LEAF. Although this will rarely matter when charging at home, it makes a big difference when using public charging. To get home, the Focus Electric might only require an hour of waiting at Starbucks; the 2012 LEAF could take 2 hours. The 2013 Nissan LEAF will charge at the same 6.6kw/h as the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. The LEAF, at no added cost, does included a second DC Fast Charge port for an 80 percent charge in about 26 minutes; although few such fast charge stations are currently available in the United States. Both can also be trickle charged from a normal dedicated 110 volt garage outlet.

Although it is priced at $39,200, like its competitors, the Focus Electric is eligible for $7,500 federal tax credit and added incentives in several states. Many will drive this pure battery-electric car paying no more in monthly electricity to charge than the cost of one trip to the station in the gasoline Ford Focus. Annual maintenance savings will also be significant in the electric. Other than preferring leather seats or special paint, there is no need to pay more than $39,200.

My test drive of the Ford Focus Electric showed it had more acceleration than the Nissan LEAF. Ford’s 92kW motor has more power than the LEAF’s 80kW motor. Ford’s liquid-cooled LG Chem lithium-ion tri-metal battery may do better in severe heat and cold than the LEAF’s air-cooled AESC lithium-nickel manganese polymer battery. Both cars have beautiful interiors, great sound systems, and navigation systems that can find your destination including the nearest public charger.

Ford will soon announce prices and start taking reservations for the Ford Focus Electric, a new aerodynamic 5-seat, 5-door hatchback with an expected range of 100 miles per charge. The Focus EV will compete head-on with the Nissan LEAF. The Focus Electric is a finalist for Green Car of the Year.

The Ford Focus Electric has a 92kW electric motor Magna drive system and a 23 kWh Ford designed battery pack using LG Chem Compact Power lithium-ion tri-metal cells with over 17 kWh available in the charge-discharge cycle. The battery pack is actively liquid cooled and heated battery pack allowing for stable battery operation over a wide range of temperatures and lower temperature-related swings in driving range. The all-electric powertrain and single-speed transmission provide immediate responsiveness and smooth acceleration when the driver pushes down the accelerator, up to a top speed of 84 mph.

MyFord Mobile App

MyFord Mobile is an app for your web browser, iPhone, Droid, and other mobile devices, to monitor and schedule the charging of your Focus Electric from anywhere, to help you maximize your range. It gives you remote charging status updates, so you can check existing charge levels and available range, while keeping track of your charge schedule. It also provides you with the location of your vehicle, where you can find the nearest charging stations and the most efficient route to get there. The app also estimates the amount of CO2 emissions and money you save based on your driving style – to help you manage costs and improve your efficiency.

  • Receive instant vehicle status information
  • Perform key functions remotely
  • Monitor the car’s state of charge and current range
  • Get alerts when it requires charging or has finished charging
  • Remotely program charge settings and download vehicle data for analysis
  • Get map routing to the nearest available charge stations

The feature also allows the owner to program the vehicle to use electricity from the grid to heat or cool the battery and cabin while plugged in – called preconditioning. For example, during hot summer months, owners can preprogram the car the evening before to be fully charged – and fully cooled to a particular temperature – by a certain time the following morning. Users can also locate the vehicle with GPS, remotely start the vehicle and remotely lock and unlock the car doors.

Focus Electric comes standard with: MyFord Touch with 8-inch touchscreen; two driver-configurable 4.2-inch color LCD displays in cluster for unique EV driving screens; MyFord™ Mobile App (for remotely monitoring and scheduling battery charging with owners’ smartphone as well as remote start); HID Headlamps; 17-inch aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, seats made from 100-percent recycled material; Rear Camera with Rear Parking Sensor; Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start; MyKey®; voice-activated Navigation System; Particulate Air Filter; hands-free SYNC® Bluetooth telephone connectivity with Traffic, Direction and Information Services; electronic traction control; Sony®-Branded audio with nine speakers; SIRIUS® Satellite Radio and HD Radio.™

Test Driving the Ford Focus Electric

Last May, I made my second test drive of the Ford Focus Electric prototype. It felt just like driving a regular gasoline Focus 4-door sedan, except it was more quiet and accelerated faster due to the torque of the electric motor. The Focus Electric accelerated faster than when I test drove the Nissan LEAF. Both allow me to accelerate on to a freeway with more power than I really need.

The handling was smooth while driving the Focus Electric. Unlike some electric car prototypes, when I hit the brakes, it stopped evenly and quickly. The coordination between regeneration and disc braking was effective.

Competition with the Nissan LEAF and Other Electric Cars

Three years ago, lithium battery pack prices were close to $1,000/kWh. Now they may be under $500/kWh. Cell makers keep refining battery chemistry. Pack makers look at design and volume manufacturing. Ford, Nissan, and GM are in a race to see who will be the first to sell 100,000 cars with lithium battery packs in one year. Ford is the likely winner, because next year all Ford hybrids and electric vehicles will use lithium battery packs. Ford will buy cells from competing battery giants, but Ford will make its own packs. Within 24 months Ford will be offering 3 battery-electric vehicles and 2 plug-in hybrids.

The battery pack for the 2012 Ford Focus Electric weighs 500 pounds. Ford has a roadmap that envisions the battery eventually being reduced to a size of the current Focus gas tank and a weight of only 125 pounds using new battery chemistry. Although some express concern about the long-term availability of lithium, Ford’s Nancy Gioia, Director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs, said that Ford’s analysis is that there will be no shortage through 2050. Battery makers expect to recycle 98 percent of the lithium in batteries.

Ford is also reducing car costs by giving customers a wide choice from one assembly line. This year we expect Ford to officially announce that customers will be able to order the new Focus with their preferred drive system including gasoline engine, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric. The Ford Focus Plug-in Hybrid is likely to price for less than the Chevrolet Volt.

The Focus Electric and the LEAF are beautiful compact cars. What do you do when you need to carry lots of stuff? Both include 60/40 reclining rear seats. In both cases, however, the placement of the battery pack precludes a completely flat cargo platform.

The Focus Electric will be made in America – Warren, Michigan. Ford is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford’s next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market. Ford is planning on a Global C platform for 12 to 14 different vehicles with a volume of 2 million units per year. Such volume, common chassis and many common components, can give Ford improved profit margins and room to price hybrid and electric cars competitively.

Announcing the new Ford Focus Electric is a proud moment for CEO Alan Mulally and the entire Ford team. Back when Ford refused to take part in the $70 billion bailout of GM and Chrysler, big investors were writing off Ford. If you had invested $100,000 in Ford at that crisis point less than 2.5 years ago, it would be worth $1,800,000 now.

A limited number of Focus Electrics will first be available in California and the New York/New Jersey regions. Availability of the Focus Electric will expand next year to the remaining 15 launch markets as production ramps up.

The 19 launch markets include: Atlanta, Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va., Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Markets were chosen based on several criteria, including commuting patterns, existing hybrid purchase trends, utility company collaboration and local government commitment to electrification.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

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