by Martin Webb, VEVC Reviewer
The Ford Focus EV was introduced in late 2011, but was limited to fleet sales. In 2012, the Focus EV became available to limited markets throughout the US, starting with California and New York.
Getting to see one up close and personal is not such a simple task, even though it is not uncommon to see TV advertisements featuring the Focus EV. When conducting an online search using Ford Canada’s dealer inventory search in May of this year, there were no cars available in BC. A more recent search shows two of the Focus EV models available to our local dealer in Victoria BC. However they are listed as “Extended Inventory”. This indicates that the local dealer could acquire them from other dealers’ inventory within the province, provided they have not been sold.
As it stands today, if you want a Ford Focus EV, I hope that white is your colour of choice, as that’s all that seems to be currently available. It reminds me of the phrase that was attributed to Henry Ford regarding the Model T; “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”. In this case, white seems to be the new black.
The Focus EV is based on the ICE (internal combustion engine) Focus and shares most of its trim and body components. The electric drive system resides under the hood, along with most of the charging and control systems. You will also find reservoirs for the brake fluid, coolant and windshield washer fluid, located under the hood and they are conveniently located and easy to check.
Where it becomes apparent that this car is electric is in the rear hatch area where a considerable amount of storage space is consumed by the car’s batteries. While there is sufficient room for groceries or a set of golf clubs, bulkier items may be a challenge due to the shape and location of the batteries. When extra space is needed the included rear cargo organizer can be removed. It should also be noted that the rear seats fold in a 60/40 configuration, however, the battery compartment limits the amount of flat floor space available.
Entertainment & EV Brake Coach
Ford is well known for the Sync system and integration of climate control, entertainment and vehicle management into their cars and the Focus EV follows suit. What is different and unique, due to its electric drive systems, are the features which allow you to better understand the impact of your driving techniques and use of power. A brake coach assists in maximizing recaptured energy. In addition, the system will allow you to see how the climate control, headlights and windshield wipers etc. will ultimately impact your overall range. It is difficult to say how many typical drivers of the Focus EV will make use of all of the energy management functions, as it requires some time to become familiar with the displays and menu structures to fully access them.
For most of us, knowing the amount of charge (in percentage) and the estimated range will provide us with the information to make sure we have enough change to make it to our chosen destination or not. The display for percentage of charge is represented by a large icon in the shape of a battery. Range is clearly indicated in kilometres. Both of these are clearly displayed to the left of the speedometer.
As with most EV’s, acceleration is swift and smooth. The cabin noise levels are typical for a sub-compact and are quite acceptable.
One of the most frequently asked questions is “What is the range?” and the Ford focus has a respectable 160 kM range which will meet most daily commuting needs. Longer trips will take some planning and some patience as the Focus is limited to Level 1 (110 VAC) and Level 2 (240 VAC). There is currently no option for the inclusion of DC (Fast) charging.
Interior / Exterior
The car is well equipped with dual zone climate control, heated seats, 9 speaker Sony entertainment system with SYNC voice control, navigation, back up camera and all of the other features you would expect from a top trim level car. As with its sibling focus models, Ford does a good job at integrating technology and features making the drive fun and convenient.
The Focus EV is well suited to daily commutes or as the family car. It does seat five, but the rear centre seat is limited in terms of room, therefore would not be suited to larger adults or for longer trips. Rear headroom is also limited for those who are a bit taller.
In terms of the exterior, the Focus has kept the identification of this model as being electric conservative, so only a close look will reveal its true nature.
The charge port is located on the driver’s side front fender and is about the size of a standard fuel filler door. There is a blue light that surrounds the charge port which aids in finding it in the dark and indicates active charging by pulsing the light. While the location of the charge port is not inconvenient, having a charge port in the center of the front of the car, such as the Nissan LEAF, seems to be more intuitive.
If you are considering the Focus EV, you can start by looking at the other models and if it looks like the Focus suits your needs, ask your dealer about the availability of the EV model.
In summary, the Ford Focus is a great car and the fact that it is one the best selling cars across international markets attests to Fords’ success with its design. The retrofitted Focus EV keeps all of the great design aspects of the original Focus and provides a capable and clean energy power train. I only wish Ford would make these cars more available through greater inventory levels and expanded retailers, as at this time, only a limited number of Ford dealerships are able to sell the EV version of the Focus.
For complete specifications and options visit the Ford website. If you have any questions, please contact the Victoria EV Club via our website.