Focus Electric charges into compact hatchback segment
Forgetting for a moment about things like range, charge times, and equivalent fuel economy, the 2013 Ford Focus EV earns major kudos for being the one electric vehicle in Canada that looks and feels most like a “regular” car.
Besides some small “Electric” badges, lack of tailpipes, and a charge port on the front of the vehicle (that looks like a fuel tank all the same), this could be any Focus hatchback.
The same goes for the interior. The environment around the cockpit and rear seats looks nearly identical to the gas-powered Focus, and it’s not until you open the hatch that the only noticeable interior difference rears its head in the form of the battery pack that cripples cargo space.
The only real “gimmicky” feature in the Focus EV is the blue butterflies that appear in the right graphic display behind the steering wheel when your range exceeds what first appears when you start up the vehicle.
It’s similar to the leaf-growing “game” used in Ford hybrids, and it’s nothing that can’t otherwise be calculated using basic math, but for those people who want to believe in an environmental “butterfly effect” caused by driving an electric car - grow those little winged creatures to your heart’s content!
Ford claims to have tuned the Focus EV to drive and feel much like the vehicle’s gas-powered brethren, and it certainly seems that way. Keep in mind, that means steering isn’t particularly responsive, but the ride is comfortable. Despite the electric Focus weighing some 315 kg more than the non-electric model, it doesn’t act bulky and awkward.
The Focus EV (143-horsepower/184 lb.-ft. of torque) doesn’t get a ton more torque than the non-electric version (160/146), but like other electric vehicles, all that torque is available from a standstill. I find passing on busy city streets effortless, but doing the same on the highway still takes a bit of planning.
There are times when I wish the Focus EV would embrace its electric vehicle-ness a little more. It doesn’t support the level-3 DC quick charge like the i-MiEV and Leaf, which may not be important today considering the lack of these charging stations, but could be a problem down the road for early adopters.
That said, the Focus EV charges much faster when using the level-2 240V charging compared to those other two.
The Focus EV also doesn’t have the three different drive modes like those available in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which can help extend the range slightly based on where you’re driving.
Otherwise, the Focus EV acts similarly to other EVs I’ve driven in terms of range - it works best in and around the city where it can take advantage of regenerative braking. The range goes down significantly faster when driving at speed on the highway.
The Focus EV has a maximum range of between 150 - 160 km, which is essentially the same as the i-MiEV (155 km), and Nissan Leaf (160 km). I charge the Focus at work each day and the highest range I reach is 152 km. Luckily, the weather isn’t quite as scorching as earlier in the summer, so I’m able to leave the air conditioning off, as that can instantly knock range down by 15 km or more.
My time with the Focus EV is used almost exclusively around the city. I do have one extended trip that I would normally complete using the highway, but I instead opt for mostly city streets, and I have no problems making it to my destination for an overnight top-up using a 120V garage outlet.
The Focus EV isn’t quite as quirky as other electric models on the market, which may very well work in its favour when it comes to consumers who are on the fence when it comes to buying an EV.
2013 Ford Focus
Trim level: Electric
Price as tested (before taxes): $42,499
Options on test vehicle: Leather seats ($1,000); white platinum tri-coat exterior ($300);
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: AC synchronous permanent magnetic motor / single speed
Power/torque: 143 hp/ 184 lb.-ft.
Battery (capacity): Lithium-ion (23 kWh)
Fuel economy ratings (equivalent): 1.7 L/100km city; 2.0 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 2.2 L/100km over 260 km
Warranties: 3 years/60,000 km (basic); 5 years/100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Volt; Mitsubishi i-MiEV; Nissan Leaf
Strengths: ride; interior quality; visibility; fuel economy
Weaknesses: no DC quick charge; numb steering; cargo space