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Times Colonist

Everybody who owns a cellphone knows how quickly new technology makes their current phone look obsolete in a short period of time. Ford is hoping its just-introduced 2013 Focus EV all-electric car will make similarly make all of its competitors look dated as well.

Here are the four main selling points:

• Better range: With up to 153 kilometres on a single charge, the Focus can go further than the Smart ED (138), Nissan Leaf (117) and Mitsubishi i MiEV (100), the other compact and mid-sized all-electric cars on the market. (The Tesla S has greater range, but it is far more expensive.)

By increasing the Focus’s range, Ford gives drivers an extra few kilometres of driving before breaking out in a cold sweat. But in my 10 days with a tester, the results were inconsistent. Some days it would charge to 160 km, others only up to 140 km. I can see it dropping in the fall and winter, but why would it change from day to day?

Range has long been the Achilles heel for electric cars. As one pundit groused: “There’s nothing wrong with electric cars that three times the driving range at half the price wouldn’t cure.”

• Better economy: Some credit for the excellent showing goes to lower power consumption. The Focus EV uses only 15.1 kWh/100 km, compared to a high of 19.3 for the Leaf and 16.8 for the MiEV. The Smart is better, at 13.4, but it has a smaller battery, which ultimately affects its range.

According to the 2013 Transport Canada fuel consumption guide, the Focus would use only 3,200 kWh of power in a year, for a total cost of $384. (Calculations based on 20,000 km of driving with 55 per cent city and 45 highway. Fuel cost based on 12 cents/kWh of electricity.)

• Quicker charge: The on-board charger on the Focus is configured to charge at 6.6 kW, double the 3.3 kW rate of its competitors. This means a Focus can be charged from empty in about four hours. By comparison, the Mitsu and Nissan would both need to be plugged into a wall charger for seven hours and the Smart eight.

Keep in mind that although the Focus can charge at the higher rate, it needs to be plugged into a charger that can output the greater wattage. The vast majority of public chargers are only 3.3 kWh because the majority of electric vehicles on the road subscribe to that charge rate, so the only place a Focus will see an advantage is in the owner’s home.

Because the 6.6 kWh chargers are used only on Focuses, expect the chargers to cost more than a conventional 3.3 kWh.

The Focus also lacks an outlet for Level 3 chargers, which is standard equipment on the MiEV and optional on the Leaf. Level 3 chargers are the real quick chargers. They can charge an EV to 80 per cent capacity in 20 minutes. These chargers are rare now as the infrastructure is weak. The idea is that they will be located at intervals along a highway, allowing an EV to travel long distances without having to wait hours at every charging station.

• More powerful: The Focus’s 92 kWh motor is almost double the MiEV and considerably more than the 80 kWh motor in the Leaf. While most economy-minded buyers don’t usually base their buying decisions on power, it’s nice to have an edge when merging on the highway. Top speed is 135 km/h.

A word of caution: With the pedal to the metal, the Focus exhibits torque steer. A driver should hang onto the steering wheel should they decide to test out this EV’s mettle.

The Focus is different than the MiEV and the Leaf in that it is a regular Focus on the production line. At some point, a worker either drops in an electric or gasoline powerplant. This spreads out development costs. Unfortunately, there is a major compromise to this strategy.

The main complaint is the lack of cargo capacity. The car’s battery sits directly behind the rear seats, taking up much of the cargo area. Cargo volume drops from 674 litres (in the regular car) to 42.

What’s left is a narrow well good enough for a few grocery bags. Say goodbye to the spare tire as well. The rear seats fold 60/40, but not flat.

The competition, by contrast, locate their batteries under the occupant’s feet. This allows reasonable cargo space as well as lowering the vehicle’s centre of gravity, improving handling.

Because it is a regular Focus, it shares all of the positive attributes of that model.

Everybody who owns a cellphone knows how quickly new technology makes their current phone look obsolete in a short period of time. Ford is hoping its just-introduced 2013 Focus EV all-electric car will make similarly make all of its competitors look dated as well.

Here are the four main selling points:

• Better range: With up to 153 kilometres on a single charge, the Focus can go further than the Smart ED (138), Nissan Leaf (117) and Mitsubishi i MiEV (100), the other compact and mid-sized all-electric cars on the market. (The Tesla S has greater range, but it is far more expensive.)

By increasing the Focus’s range, Ford gives drivers an extra few kilometres of driving before breaking out in a cold sweat. But in my 10 days with a tester, the results were inconsistent. Some days it would charge to 160 km, others only up to 140 km. I can see it dropping in the fall and winter, but why would it change from day to day?

Range has long been the Achilles heel for electric cars. As one pundit groused: “There’s nothing wrong with electric cars that three times the driving range at half the price wouldn’t cure.”

• Better economy: Some credit for the excellent showing goes to lower power consumption. The Focus EV uses only 15.1 kWh/100 km, compared to a high of 19.3 for the Leaf and 16.8 for the MiEV. The Smart is better, at 13.4, but it has a smaller battery, which ultimately affects its range.

According to the 2013 Transport Canada fuel consumption guide, the Focus would use only 3,200 kWh of power in a year, for a total cost of $384. (Calculations based on 20,000 km of driving with 55 per cent city and 45 highway. Fuel cost based on 12 cents/kWh of electricity.)

• Quicker charge: The on-board charger on the Focus is configured to charge at 6.6 kW, double the 3.3 kW rate of its competitors. This means a Focus can be charged from empty in about four hours. By comparison, the Mitsu and Nissan would both need to be plugged into a wall charger for seven hours and the Smart eight.

Keep in mind that although the Focus can charge at the higher rate, it needs to be plugged into a charger that can output the greater wattage. The vast majority of public chargers are only 3.3 kWh because the majority of electric vehicles on the road subscribe to that charge rate, so the only place a Focus will see an advantage is in the owner’s home.

Because the 6.6 kWh chargers are used only on Focuses, expect the chargers to cost more than a conventional 3.3 kWh.

The Focus also lacks an outlet for Level 3 chargers, which is standard equipment on the MiEV and optional on the Leaf. Level 3 chargers are the real quick chargers. They can charge an EV to 80 per cent capacity in 20 minutes. These chargers are rare now as the infrastructure is weak. The idea is that they will be located at intervals along a highway, allowing an EV to travel long distances without having to wait hours at every charging station.

• More powerful: The Focus’s 92 kWh motor is almost double the MiEV and considerably more than the 80 kWh motor in the Leaf. While most economy-minded buyers don’t usually base their buying decisions on power, it’s nice to have an edge when merging on the highway. Top speed is 135 km/h.

A word of caution: With the pedal to the metal, the Focus exhibits torque steer. A driver should hang onto the steering wheel should they decide to test out this EV’s mettle.

The Focus is different than the MiEV and the Leaf in that it is a regular Focus on the production line. At some point, a worker either drops in an electric or gasoline powerplant. This spreads out development costs. Unfortunately, there is a major compromise to this strategy.

The main complaint is the lack of cargo capacity. The car’s battery sits directly behind the rear seats, taking up much of the cargo area. Cargo volume drops from 674 litres (in the regular car) to 42.

What’s left is a narrow well good enough for a few grocery bags. Say goodbye to the spare tire as well. The rear seats fold 60/40, but not flat.

The competition, by contrast, locate their batteries under the occupant’s feet. This allows reasonable cargo space as well as lowering the vehicle’s centre of gravity, improving handling.

Because it is a regular Focus, it shares all of the positive attributes of that model.

More http://www.timescolonist.com/life/electric-focus-breaks-new-ev-ground-1.559866

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