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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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By Hoser McMoose on 9/4/2010 12:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
Ice are good at producing heat.

Indeed they are (despite the ironic acronym). Internal combustion engines are actually a LOT better at producing heat than they are at producing anything useful, which is really the problem with them.

Producing heat is a rather trivial thing though. If you just want heat you can get nearly 100% efficiency out of an electric heater with little trouble at all (not counting the efficiency of getting that electricity in the first place of course!).

And here's the thing: the amount of electricity you need to heat up a few m^3 worth of space inside a car is pretty small when compared to the electricity you need to move 1500kg worth of steel, plastics and people around at 120km/h.

For a typical electric vehicle you might figure on driving 64km (40 miles) in one hour and using 8kWh of battery power to do so. If you were to use a 1kW heater for that hour you would turn that car into a sauna even on a fairly cold day. Probably heating will be more on the order of about 500W to heat the internal compartment on a fairly cold (maybe -10C?) day, so your range will drop by a bit over 6%.

6% is probably not far off how much range you'll drop with an gasoline internal combustion engine on a cold day. Diesel would be at least as bad and probably worse.

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