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2012 Ford Focus Sedan

Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford gives out some details on the Focus Electric's battery system

Ford is doing its best to stay in the headlines when it comes to the latest in tech. Earlier this week, we brought you news of Ford's efforts to deliver SYNC firmware to new vehicles over Wi-Fi instead of using costly custom-designed hardware.

Today, Ford is spilling the beans on the electric variant of the next generation Ford Focus. Ford is already moving the Focus nameplate up a few rungs from a bargain basement special that is popular with fleet customers to a premium compact, so an electric variant isn't too surprising.

The new Focus Electric will use an advanced lithium-ion battery pack that is [active] liquid cooled to help keep the cells at the perfect operating temperature -- that means cooling the batteries in the hot of summer and heating them in the cold of winter. If you recall, Tesla's CEO called out Nissan for using "primitive" air-cooling on the battery pack used in the Leaf EV. Tesla won't be able to make the same claims against Ford.

“Extreme temperatures impact a battery’s life and performance, making it crucial to have an effective cooling and heating system to regulate temperature for these demanding applications,” said Anand Sankaran, Ford's executive technical leader for Energy Storage and HV Systems.

The active liquid cooling system will also be used to "precondition" the battery pack when charging. The system will automatically bring the batteries to the proper temperature before the charging process begins. If the batteries are already at their optimum temperature, the charging process starts right away.

Ford also announced that the driving range for the Focus Electric will be an impressive 100 miles. The 100-mile figure is identical to that of the Nissan Leaf, but the Focus Electric may have the upper hand in extreme temperatures due to the active cooling system. 

Production of the Focus Electric will begin next year at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant and the vehicle will be available to the public in late 2011. It should be interesting to see how Ford will price the Focus Electric given the more expensive cooling system that it's decided to strap into the vehicle. Nissan's Leaf EV starts at $32,780 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. On the other hand, Chevrolet's Volt will start at $41,000 before the tax credit. We speculate that the Focus Electric will come in somewhere between those two figures.

The Focus Electric isn't the only all-electric vehicle coming out of Ford -- the Transit Connect Electric commercial van will be available later this year. That vehicle has a driving range of 80 miles.

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How can this make sense
By Cowardlyduck on 9/2/2010 9:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if im wrong, but how can they guarantee 100 mile ratings when the cooling system runs from the cars battery?

Any cooling system in any car is going to use energy from that cars fuel source.

In this case it will just suck down more battery power if it's an excessively hot or cold day would it not?

Unless they made the 100 mile range a minimum, I don't see how it can in any way be consistently consistent in range.

RE: How can this make sense
By InternetGeek on 9/2/2010 9:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
The article doesn't mention that the battery temp control system is active, however in the case of cooling it mentions there is a radiator to chill the water. For cold days it seems something will heat up the water (might be the battery itself during its normal operation).

In another paragraph they mention the battery system is larger.

So, what it sounds to me is that Ford is using a big ass battery that should have enough power to run the car for 100miles and bring the battery to optimum temperature either cold or warm.

RE: How can this make sense
By InternetGeek on 9/2/2010 9:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
The thought just crossed my mind that ford might be using a peltier of some kind...

RE: How can this make sense
By Jedi2155 on 9/3/2010 1:26:06 AM , Rating: 2
Oh God no....I've seen peltier based active cooling systems for large format batteries. They are HUGE, and not very good but they definitely would fit well in something in the likes of a Focus electric given the limited space.

RE: How can this make sense
By AnnihilatorX on 9/3/2010 5:03:24 AM , Rating: 3
Peltier systems are quite energy inefficient

RE: How can this make sense
By Dr of crap on 9/3/2010 8:58:09 AM , Rating: 1
Sorry -
It's in the title and in the article - "active cooling".
So it will being "active" at all times right?
So this would be a drain - even a small drain - at ALL times.
So if the car sits in the garage for 5 days or more, keeping the batteries at the right temp, and then you hop in to use it, will the batteries not be able to go 100 miles?

RE: How can this make sense
By Spivonious on 9/3/2010 9:28:21 AM , Rating: 3
If the car is not being used, the batteries won't need to be cooled.

RE: How can this make sense
By Dr of crap on 9/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: How can this make sense
By SandmanWN on 9/3/2010 10:29:16 AM , Rating: 4
95 is not outside the operating range of the batteries. I have no idea what you are talking about with battery sweat. It would take a serious temperature change from frozen to sweltering for that to occur and if that did happen to the degree you mention the battery used to start your gas powered car would also be effected.

Whats the point of the active cooling system in every gas burning car if it only kicks in when the car is being used... Sounds like a ridiculous question unless you live in a place where the baseline temperature exceeds the operating range of the vehicle, which if I remember correctly is over 150 degrees.

RE: How can this make sense
By Spuke on 9/3/2010 11:56:02 AM , Rating: 2
baseline temperature exceeds the operating range of the vehicle, which if I remember correctly is over 150 degrees.
Care to post a link?

RE: How can this make sense
By SandmanWN on 9/3/2010 2:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, was doing it from memory. Its in another DT article about the operating temperature of another EV. Go search for yourself.

RE: How can this make sense
By Spuke on 9/3/2010 5:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
Go search for yourself.
You could have left that out. I really wanted to know where you got that from. Besides, there soooo much BS that gets posted here, I believe nothing so I ask.

RE: How can this make sense
By Hoser McMoose on 9/4/2010 11:33:31 AM , Rating: 2
I can't speak so much about the batteries in vehicles, but I've done a bit of work with Li-Ion batteries for cell phones and the basic chemistry of it all is the same.

For Li-Ion batteries a typical maximum operating value is at least 60C (140F). Some Li-Ion batteries are rated for higher temperatures. Also you really don't lose much of anything in terms of the battery capacity at high temperatures, though if you need cooling (either for the batteries or for the interior of the car itself) it will be a bigger drain.

Cold temperatures are a bigger problem. Li-Ion batteries start losing efficiency below about 20C and when temperatures drop below 0C their effectiveness drops off pretty badly. At -10C you only get about 70% of the life as compared to 25C+ temperatures and even less if what you're powering has a low-voltage cut-off as the voltage at which that power provided is lower (at 25C+ the voltage stays pretty constant until the battery is nearly dead, at -10C battery voltage is much more of a slope). Below -20C (-4F) Li-Ion batteries are basically worthless.

Aside: Keep in mind that internal combustion engines also lose efficiency pretty badly when temperatures drop below -10C and diesels in particular are extremely problematic below -20C. At the very least they need additives to the fuel to prevent gelling and glow plugs to allow for combustion. Plus you'll need a heavy coat and gloves to drive in one because it takes a LONG time before you're going to get any heat out of the heating system.

The biggest temperature limitation with Li-Ion batteries, and what seems to be the Ford's focus here (no pun intended, honest!) is battery charging . Here you are limited to a much smaller temperature window than actually using the batteries. Typically you can only charge a Li-Ion battery when they are above 0C and below 35 or 40C.

From my reading of this article it seems like this active heating/cooling system is ONLY for charging, so you won't actually be draining the battery at all but rather using electricity while plugged in. Essentially this will result in a drop in the charging efficiency; if you need 10kWh to get a full charge of the batteries you'll need to put in 11 or 12kWh (keeping in mind that Li-Ion batteries charge at better than 95% efficiency under ideal circumstances and 1kWh buys you a *LOT* of heating, though not as much cooling).

If you really want a link for any of this you can try something like:

Basic specs for a bog-standing Li-Ion battery. There are slight variations between makes and types but the basics are all the same.

RE: How can this make sense
By Dr of crap on 9/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: How can this make sense
By SandmanWN on 9/3/2010 2:34:24 PM , Rating: 4
What attack? And really, both of your posts were less than polite questioning.

Sweating batteries was a metaphor? ...New one for me... Just what is the metaphor for sweating batteries anyway?

95 may be hot for a person but that doesn't translate to the operating temperature of batteries. Pick up just about any battery and the operating temp will be posted as most likely between 140 and 160F.

Why active cooling? Well that's obvious... Longevity of the battery and optimal performance. You are building a consumer product that is designed to last a decade or more with a larger than average battery pack that generates heat. Why else...

RE: How can this make sense
By Alexvrb on 9/3/2010 10:48:31 PM , Rating: 2
Just sitting there, not moving, and not plugged in? I imagine it won't use any thermal management, because it doesn't need to. Ambient temp isn't a problem for storage. Only during charging and powering the vehicle should it need to cool or heat the batteries above or below ambient temps - and in both cases it isn't an issue.

When you're charging, you don't need to worry about a little extra power consumption, if it helps condition your batteries for better capacity and longevity. When you're driving around, the power consumed to keep the battery within a specified temperature range is going to be well worth it, and you'll get better life and range. So... seems like win-win.

Personally though, with the long charge times of a pure EV, I'd rather have an E-REV similar to the Volt. Less battery-only travel, but your travel range is limited only by your ability to purchase gasoline. Yeah, I don't always drive vast distances. But lacking the ability to do so means the EV is an around-town car only. No visiting family out of your range with it.

"Yeah well I was gonna show you my new electric car but... it couldn't make the trip without an overnight stop."

RE: How can this make sense
By Alexvrb on 9/3/2010 10:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
Man that would also make for a hilarious phone call for a tow truck.
"My car is out of juice."
"You ran out of gas? We'll bring a couple of gallons and get you back on the road-"
"No, I mean it's a damn electric car and I thought I could make it! Just come tow me to my house already..."

RE: How can this make sense
By Hoser McMoose on 9/4/2010 11:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
Obvoiusly 95 would be in the range where cooling takes affect

I mentioned it in my excessively wordy post above, but to state it more clearly: 35C (95F) is no problem at all for Li-Ion batteries.

The cooling system exists because on a day when it is 35C outside it might be 50C (122F) inside a garage. No problem at all for starting the car and going driving (no cooling need and no loss in battery performance), but you can't charge the batteries at that temp. If you're charging overnight when temperatures are lower this becomes a non-issue.

The real reason this exists is on the cold temperature end of things.

RE: How can this make sense
By Brandon Hill on 9/2/2010 9:37:50 PM , Rating: 3
My guess would be that any power used by the active cooling system would be far less than the excessive energy drop that would come from batteries that are either too hot or too cold.

But I see your point. The cooling system has to get power from somewhere...

RE: How can this make sense
By Samus on 9/3/2010 3:22:07 AM , Rating: 3
Right, there are two theories:

1) The electricity used to power the heating/cooling system to keep the battery pack running efficiency nearly breaks even. ie, if there were no heating/cooling system, and the battery pack were too hot/cold, it'd be so inefficient that the loss would be equal to or greater than running a heating/cooling system.

2) The amount of electricity used to power the heating/cooling system is virtually immeasurable compared to the electricity used to power the car for 100 miles of driving, probably in the order of using 1 mile range or so of power.

Ford seems to know what they're doing. They're not going to have the problems Nissan and GM are going to have with their battery operated vehicles. If you remember, GM had some issues testing the Volt in the Southwest.

RE: How can this make sense
By Hiawa23 on 9/3/2010 9:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
If Ford can make an EV look that good, why has Toyota not improved the ugly body style of the Prius? That's a great looking car. May come back to Ford when my Mitsubishi & Honda go out on me.

RE: How can this make sense
By docinct on 9/3/2010 2:25:09 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like something from the Hyundai Sonata school of design

RE: How can this make sense
By gregpet on 9/3/2010 1:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
GM's batteries are heated/cooled as well...

See the section on Thermal Mgmt...Ford is playing catch-up...

RE: How can this make sense
By michael67 on 9/3/2010 5:04:28 AM , Rating: 1
I have a water cooled PC, that produces about 800W of heat.

If i calculate the max power-drain of the active cooling components is 50W (2 pump 5 fans), but my fan's and pump go never over 60% max pomp ore fan speed +/- 25W (pomp max flow 400G/h)
The parts: www*aquatuning*nl/shopping_cart.php/bkey/b68ca2c1c4 7c71b66c74d4f1a6ae94fb

And i think that 50W is noting compared to the couple of KW the motor uses, and if the battery is only 1% more power efficient by keeping the power pack at optimal temperature it would take 3 weeks of the cooling system running full speed before it would cost you extra energy, (if the car would stand still).
And i don't think the power pack will have 800W of heat loss due to usage, so real world use, properly going to be a lot less

And if the power pack is good isolated it dose not take mouths energy to keep it warm eider.

Apparently the link i provided make's my post spam 0_o

RE: How can this make sense
By Hoser McMoose on 9/4/2010 11:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
My guess would be that any power used by the active cooling system would be far less than the excessive energy drop that would come from batteries that are either too hot or too cold.

For heating you are absolutely correct.

For cooling it's almost a non-issue. You don't lose anything from batteries that are too hot. Actually you get MORE energy out of them the hotter they get... until they explode (err, ok not 'explode' so much as leak internal gases and stop functioning altogether).

Fortunately for using the batteries you're good up to 60C (140F) with no need for cooling. Given that these batteries will be in the shade, so to speak, you'll need EXTREMELY high ambient temperatures before this becomes an issue, probably above 55C (keeping in mind the highest temp ever recorded was 58C).

The only time cooling the batteries is an issue is if you're CHARGING them when it's really hot. As such the "somewhere" that the cooling system will get power from is the wall socket you're plugged into while charging.

Heating up cold batteries is another story altogether.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 9/3/2010 7:13:04 AM , Rating: 3
Might it not be the case that under optimum conditions without the heating and cooling system, the car would travel for let's say, 150 miles on the battery pack alone, and that Ford somehow (they are engineers, after all) calculated the drain the heating and cooling system would have on that range, and then estimated a lower range of 100 miles?

Who's to say they started with a 100 mile optimum range, and then just lied about the drain from the heating and cooling system, or are just hoping no one notices?

RE: How can this make sense
By hughlle on 9/3/2010 9:47:15 AM , Rating: 2
because they probably took best and worst case scenarios and factored in the cooling./heating requirement..

RE: How can this make sense
By Iridium130m on 9/3/2010 10:08:53 AM , Rating: 2
It makes perfect sense. Look at the issues Honda is having with air cooling their battery pack in high temperature regions. And the IMA system on the Honda's only use the packs in limited bursts. Honda is to the point now where, IMHO, they are dishonoring their warranty and refusing the change out the packs and putting software on the vehicles to limit the role of the packs use in the car.

In an EV vehicle, you CANNOT have the battery pack not work. Or be limited. period. Ford has recognized this in their hybrids as my understanding is they have some active forms of cooling in them, and now their EVs.

You are not going to get the full range in high heat. Or low cold. (fuel millage drops in gasoline only vehicles in these scenarios too). But you are not going to destroy the most expensive component in your vehicle either. And I'm sure were not talking only 2500-3500 here per pack replacement as is the case in my car.

RE: How can this make sense
By fteoath64 on 9/3/2010 10:50:45 AM , Rating: 2
This is why I think the batteries idea is a lame one. At least using conventional batteries (lithium ion or lithium polymer), should be using hydrogen-fuel cell. What actually happen to those ?. Used to do 400 mile on a single charge/tank equivalent!.

RE: How can this make sense
By FaaR on 9/3/2010 11:46:22 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel cells have a lot of their own quirks, including need for precious metals for the catalysts, high operating heat, life expectancy and so on.

They're expensive to make, don't last very long, and...seriously, do you really want to drive around with a tank of pressurized hydrogen behind your back? ;)

RE: How can this make sense
By JKflipflop98 on 9/4/2010 2:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
A tank of hydrogen is no more dangerous than a tank full of gasoline. Except in the event of a crash, gasoline lays on the road under your car in a big puddle, whereas the hydrogen just flys off into the atmosphere

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