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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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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.

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