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
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.