During a recent symposium for national automotive journalists, Ford executives and subject matter experts provided a sneak preview of products geared toward achieving the automaker’s goal of providing more fuel-efficient vehicles. In the 2012 model year, nearly one-third of Ford’s vehicle lineup will feature a model that achieves 40 mpg or greater. Not only that, but the Blue Oval Team is Focusing heavily on producing vehicles that are entirely gas-free. Yes, there was a pun intended there – a new Ford Focus Electric will be introduced that’s expected to reach 100+ MPGe.
The 2012 Focus Electric, which will be produced at Ford’s world-class Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan is the first all-electric vehicle to offer faster charging technology, which will allow it to juice up in half the time of a Nissan Leaf using a 240-volt outlet. It is also expected to be the first five-passenger, all-electric car to achieve more than a 100 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) fuel efficiency rating.
Ford’s electrified vehicle rollout began in December 2010 with the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric – a small commercial van built in collaboration with Azure Dynamics. Ford’s other 40-mpg vehicles include the Focus SE, the Fiesta, the C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi, and three additional vehicles to be announced in the future. The Ford Focus Electric will wear the stylish new face of Ford and will generally look just like any other Focus model, with basically the same external dimensions, but weighing roughly 724 pounds more. It will be propelled by a Permanent magnetic electric traction motor that generates 143 horsepower/107 kW, along with 184 pound feet of torque (both figures are preliminary). Top speed for the front-wheel drive Focus Electric will be 84 mph. The power is supplied by a high voltage Lithium-ion (23 kilowatt-hours capacity) rechargeable, liquid-cooled and heated battery system that may be recharged in three to four hours (240V) or 18-20 hours (120V) at a cost of $2 to $3 for a full recharge.
The Focus Electric emissions rating will be ZEV for both Federal and California emissions. Motive power will be transmitted to the driving wheels via a standard single-speed automatic transmission. Energetic power will come from power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes (vented front) with ABS, ESC and HLA with a regenerative braking feature. The car will roll on 17-inch, low-rolling resistance tires mounted on alloy wheels and feature independent MacPherson suspension up front and Control Blade multilink suspension in the rear. Steering is electric power-assisted. Pricing for the Focus Electric will be $32,500 after a $7,500 Federal tax rebate.
Both the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi are slated as 2013 models and will be powered by the same 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine with intake variable camshaft timing and sequential multiport fuel injection, with the same projected 185 horsepower and 130 pound feet of torque. Both vehicles also feature high voltage Lithium-ion battery powered permanent magnet AC synchronous assist motors, with power transmitted to the front wheels via a HF35 eCVT hybrid powersplit transaxle. The C-MAX Hybrid is capable of transitioning seamlessly and efficiently between gasoline and electric power. The C-MAX Energi is a plug-in hybrid electric that is capable of running without the gasoline engine. Both C-MAX variants will be produced on the same line as the Focus Electric.
All three fuel-efficient vehicles will enhance Ford’s status as a provider of energy conscious transportation, while all three will also offer the same levels of technology and personal connectivity as other premium Ford vehicles, including My Ford Touch, SYNC and Active Park Assist. Ford is working in conjunction with large retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart to provide recharging solutions, along with Sunpower solar recharging. Costs for home recharging stations installed, will run from $1,499 to $10,000 for retail outlet stations. Smart phone apps are available to monitor charging times for optimum electrical rates during non-peak hours.
“The Focus Electric is a shining example of the leading fuel economy Ford is offering for each new vehicle,” stated Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “Whether people want a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery-electric vehicle, we have a family of vehicles for them to consider, providing a range of options to best meet their needs and support their driving habits and lifestyles.”
The new face of Ford is unquestionably the face of the future, and come to think of it, the present as well.