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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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Out of charge?
By Gunbuster on 9/3/2010 10:00:04 AM , Rating: 2
What happens when a silly user runs the battery down to 0? Do you have to call a wrecker/tow truck?

You cant very well walk to the gas station can you?

Can you "jump" charge a full electric using an ICE car?

RE: Out of charge?
By Nutzo on 9/3/2010 10:58:23 AM , Rating: 2
Just carry a small gas generator in the trunk :)

Then you can walk to the gas station, get a gallon of gas, pour it into the generator, plug the car into the generator, start the generator, and wait an hour or 2 for the car to charge.

RE: Out of charge?
By gregpet on 9/3/2010 1:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
Thsi is called 'Range Anxiety' and is exactly the reason why pure electric cars w/o a range extender (leaf, tesla, focus) will be a difficult sale to non-green buyers...

Unfortunately for all the GM haters, the Volt is the only electric that solves the problem with the ICE generator...

RE: Out of charge?
By Gunbuster on 9/3/2010 2:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
Have they even addressed this at a design level?

Out of fuel is easy to remediate hence limited warning (small light, possible chime, range display that lies and lets you often go below 0 with no ill effect)

Out of charge is another story, are they building in sterner warnings? Luxury systems go offline at a certain low charge level? Maybe keep a secret reserve charge and when you run out make you sit on the side of the road with a buzzer going off for five minutes before it gives you a final 10 miles in limp mode?

RE: Out of charge?
By shin0bi272 on 9/3/2010 10:35:42 PM , Rating: 2
the generator doesnt work the way youre thinking it does.

RE: Out of charge?
By CowKing on 9/3/2010 3:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
There are emergency battery packs that can charge a dead battery in a traditional car through the 12v cigarette lighter thing. I don't see why they couldn't have one that you could plug through the charger plug unless you want it to trickle charge and wait 24 hours.

RE: Out of charge?
By Hoser McMoose on 9/4/2010 12:17:41 PM , Rating: 2
Can you "jump" charge a full electric using an ICE car?

I seriously doubt it. The electrical system of an ICE car, which is what you'd be taping into, is ~14V and a max of at most about 100amp (assuming you've got a big, chunky alternator like you might find in a big pick-up truck).

First problem: There might not be any circuitry in place to charge the EV's battery at 14V. The cells themselves probably charge at 4.2V (standard for Li-Ion batteries) and a wall socket is going to give you 115V. 14V isn't particularly close to either of these, so the car company would have to go out of their way to specifically provide circuitry to convert that 14V charge to 4.2V for the batteries. The electronics of this are pretty trivial, but the mechanical and safety aspects of it won't be as easy and might not be worth the cost.

Second problem? You would need to "jump" the car for 1 hour to provide 1.4kWh worth of charge (assuming no loss). That will only get you about 15 or 20km worth of driving time. Might be enough to get home, might not be. Either way most people won't want to sit on the side of the road for an hour to charge you up.

FYI most EV cars are likely to only discharge down to 25 or 30% capacity of their cells before they are "out of charge". The reason for this is that Li-Ion batteries wear out a LOT quicker if you do full, 100% to 0%, discharges. What you are likely to see is that most EV's will switch to a "limp home" mode when they hit 30% capacity. Reduce power consumption to an absolute minimum (turn off all non-safety electronics, cut motor power, etc.) and then keep running until the batteries are so dead that you can't reliably operate, which is typically around 5% of battery life normal temperatures.

That should probably give you a good 30km or more after your battery is "dead". However you'll be damaging your battery and I would guess that the warranty will have a clause voiding battery coverage if you do this with any regularity.

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