Fifteen months after first showing the Focus Electric in New York City, Ford brought a trailer-load of the battery-powered beasts to the Big Apple for a media drive. I let the mass media journalists and well-funded bloggers take their turns first, before I covered a Focus Electric with cameras and took a ride through mid-town Manhattan in late-morning traffic with Ford Engineer, Gil Portalatin.
The Focus Electric pulled into traffic effortlessly and I instantly felt at home in the urban environment. The first application of brakes felt a little grabby, but not overly so. This is to be expected with a vehicle that aggressively regenerates energy.
The Focus Electric’s permanent magnet electric traction motor provides 141 horsepower and 188 foot pounds of torque, with a top speed of 84 miles per hour. The transmission is single speed and the power delivery is completely linear.
The 23 kilowatt lithium ion battery pack charges in approximately four hours on a 240 volt charger and twenty hours on a 120 volt line.
Ford touts their 240 volt charging time as a significant advantage over the Nissan Leaf and is positioning the Focus Electric as a premium vehicle.
The Focus Electric is built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, in Wayne, Michigan. Ford isn’t looking to go toe-to-toe with Nissan right off the bat, and they expect to sell far fewer Focus Electrics than Leafs. With a higher suggested retail price and a limited supply, this might be a scarcity play to preserve margin.
The Electric Vehicle market is expanding far more slowly than many of its proponents had expected. The combination of a high cost of acquisition, range issues, and lack of public recharging infrastructure in many areas is holding many buyers back.
A cautious and measured approach in these times is warranted. If Washington fails to stay the line, we’ll remain in the clutches of big oil throughout our lifetimes.
Editor’s Note: This is a first test drive over a loop that took under fifteen minutes. We will have a full scale review of the Focus Electric once it is available through traditional channels.
– by Daniel Gray