Ford Focus Electric Real World Test Drive

3 years ago by Lyle Dennis 50

One of the spoils of automotive journalism is the ability to test drive cars before or as they hit the market.  Yesterday I had the joy of a freshly minted Ford Focus Electric delivered straight to my driveway for a one week real world driving experience.

In my five years of electric car blogging I have had the pleasure to test, and live with several electric cars, giving me ample comparative experience.  I spent one year living with the MINI-E, and have exclusively driven my Chevy Volt for the past year and a half.  I have also test driven the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi i MIEV, the Tesla Roadster, several Chevy Volt prototypes, the GM 2-Mode plug-in EV, and even an early Ford Focus EV prototype.

Greeting the electric Focus was a pleasure.  I found the car sleek and muscular with a futuristic aura.  It sits low to the ground and with a wide stance.  The hatchback rear and low wide slotted front grill are both pleasing aesthetics with a European flair.  The wheels are large and bold.

The car is solid and well built.  The cockpit was also clean and pleasing.  I found it slightly more technical and interesting that the interiors of both the Volt and the LEAF.  There appears to be a myriad of options both for the center touch LCD and non touch LCD behind the wheel.  There is certainly a  learning curve to these controls and in my first day of driving I mainly learned how to get the radio on and off and find my channels of interest. That wasn’t too tough.  There is also a gauge that shows battery life and lets you set a range budget illustrating where you stand at any given moment.  To provide eco-feedback Ford supplies a butterfly icon collection that grows with efficient driving.

The car drives tightly and boldly.  It is easy to chirp the wheels from a standing stop and acceleration was definitely brisk.  Though I did not time the 0 to 60 yet, it felt faster than the Volt and the LEAF.  One could sense the low center of gravity from the heavy battery at the base which hugs the car to the road.  It was certainly nimble in acceleration, braking, and handling.  There is a low gear setting that adds mild regenerative drag, something I enjoy using in my Volt.

In my first 17 mile jaunt, my battery gauge went from 55 to 35 miles of estimated range.  Officially the car should get 76 miles of range from a full charge.

Interior room was sufficient and bright and I was able to take my family of five along with no problem and plenty of cargo room left over.

The car is definitely fun, exciting, cool-looking and technologically interesting.  The price-tag of $39,995 seems a little high though even with the $7500 tax credit for a pure electric car, considering the Volt costs the same but offers a range extender, and a similarly equipped LEAF is about $3000 less.  Nonetheless the car is highly relevant as the only American made pure electric vehicle.

I’ll be spending the next full week with the car and will have more to report after that.  Feel free to ask me to test and check anything you want in the comments below.

 

 

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50 responses to "Ford Focus Electric Real World Test Drive"

  1. Ross says:

    Lyle,

    Thanks for the first real world drive report on the Ford Focus Electric.

    I too own a Volt and have test driven the Leaf. I went with the Volt like many others for it’s extended range feature unlike a pure electric. I’d like to know when you drive the Ford Focus electric have you been able to easily supplant the use of your Volt weekly? Not for out of town trips but just using the FFE instead of the Volt day in and day out as you have with your Volt. I guess I am asking if you would buy an FFE for a second car in your life or another Volt?

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Im definitely considering it as my second car. Right now we have an Acura MDX. Lease is up in 9 months. I have three small kids. Our next car will be either plugin prius, nissan leaf or the electric ford. Problem will be if all 5 of us need to go on a long trip in which case wed need the PiP. I like the C-MAX Energy plugin but my wife finds it ugly.

      1. Schmeltz says:

        Hey Lyle…I was just thinking if your wife doesn’t care for the looks of the C-Max Energi, perhaps she would like the Fusion Energi that’s coming soon. That car may be the Volt’s true competitor from Ford. Looking forward to reading your review on the Fusion Energi too.

        1. Lyle Dennis says:

          That looks like a winner

  2. Ziv says:

    So when are you going to burn up the drag strip and see what the 0-60 time is? ;-)
    I think the FFE has the best look of the big three early sub-$40k entries and white does look good! (Volt, Leaf, FFE)
    It is going to be interesting to see the updates/upgrades/price reductions to these three cars over the next three years as the competition gets up to speed.

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      I agree it is very nice looking. I did a 0 to 60 on the way to work today, 8.9 seconds. 0-30 was 4.2. Will need to time 3 trials and average.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I’m thinking we construct a “InsideEVs Sweet Jumps Road Course” and make some youtube videos…give the people what they want to see.

        1. Ziv says:

          Thanks, Lyle, sounds like the Big 3 are pretty close on acceleration. Not a huge issue, but fun to know. I hope the GenII versions all improve slightly, but it isn’t a deal killer.
          Jay, I am thinking something along the lines of “Lyle and Statik testing the best of the worlds EV’s and EREV’s at Nurburgring”! Or would that be “Statik and Lyle”? I will let the two of you work that out.
          Seriously, though, it would be cool to have a Youtube series on your impressions of the choices that are out there now. It probably would take way too much time, though. I like the articles and they sometimes have details that get left out of videos.

  3. Nehemiah Spencer says:

    Are you going to test the Model S? Would be very interested re: your experience with the Model S.

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Definitely looking forward to that one too.

  4. Mark Z says:

    It will be less than a month for Tesla Model S deliveries. All the best on getting one of the early owners to give you a test drive!

    The chirp of the wheel comment bothers me as the Volt never chirped the wheels. Unlike an ICE vehicle, an EV has the ability to precisely control the torque and speed so wheel chirping is unnecessary. Tires should last longer and traction should be better without the chirp.

    1. Dave R says:

      I would not be concerned at all about being able to chirp the tires from a start. If anything, it’s easier to chirp the tires in an EV thanks to instant 100% torque.

      Traction control should quickly limit the amount of wheelspin to keep that chirp from becoming a burnout.

      Without a limited slip differential, it’s especially easy to spin a tire accelerating around a corner from a stop in an EV – though not particularly hard in any car.

      If the Focus EV can chirp the tires easily from a stop in a straight line I suspect that Ford simply allows 100% torque to the motor a bit more quickly than the other EVs – it’s also quite possible that the Focus EV has more weight over the rear wheels than the others – a drawback of being a conversion and not fitting the batteries under the floor like the LEAF or in the center tunnel like the Volt.

  5. kdawg says:

    Does it have SYNC?
    Does it have a mobile ap to check battery life?
    How long does it take to charge w/the 6.6KW charger?
    What rate does it charge at, at 120VAC? Time to recharge?
    Does it have a spare tire or fix-a-flat?
    Isn’t the battery in the trunk area? How limited is the space?
    Do the doors unlock automatically when the keyfob is near?
    How do you pop the plug cover open?
    How fast have your gone? Top speed?
    Does it have a gear shifter PRNL, or buttons?

    1. Dave R says:

      Time to charge at 6.6 kW from near-empty is less than 4 hours. Probably better to think of it as charging at about 24 miles / hour.

      All EVs basically charge at the same rate on 120V – 12A which is about 1.4 kW. From empty the Focus EV will take up to 20 hours to recharge from empty. Probably better to think of it as charging at about 4 miles/ hour.

      Battery takes up a substantial amount of trunk room. Not much room left back there.

    2. staff says:

      AS for SYNC, it does. And it has a mobile app to do all the thing you have come to expect. It also has some unique meter-monitoring and auto charging features. We did a piece on it a couple days ago.

      http://insideevs.com/myford-mobile-app-tracks-utility-rates-for-focus-electric/

      1. kdawg says:

        How does the remote connection work? Cell tower (like OnStar)?
        Can you remotely pre-condition the car?

        1. staff says:

          Yes to both of those questions

    3. Lyle Dennis says:

      I have installed the MyFord mobile app and started playgin with it – I will writer it up into a post. Regular shifter. No highway driving yet.

      I recharged overnight using my Voltec charger which is 3.3kw – dont need faster charging for myself.

  6. Lyle,

    You know I love strong regen and have written about it quite a bit. How would you compare the strength of the FFE regen to other EV’s including your old MINI-E?

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Good point.

      In the standard D position there seems to be minimal regen, in the L position I would call it mild. The MINI-E had very strong regen – I actually enjoyed that too after getting used to it.

      1. The ActiveE’s regen is slightly less than the MINI-E, but it’s a much smoother feeling than the MINI-E had.
        Lyle, if you want to swap cars for a day and drive the ActiveE sometime, just let me know. We aren’t too far away from each other to do it.

        1. Lyle Dennis says:

          Thanks for the offer, I would do it, that’s one I haven’t tried yet.

  7. Fluke says:

    Lyle,
    Thanks for the initial impressions. I’m seriously considering the FFE as a companion to my Volt (my wife wants the Volt…). I’d be interested to see what the dimensions for this area are or what items will fit in the rear storage area on top of the parcel shelf. I’ve seen pictures of it and the area left to place items on the shelf looks pretty small.

  8. nasaman says:

    I’d be EXTREMELY interested in your impression of the ActiveE, Lyle, and I’m sure many other Volt afficionados would as well!

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Hi Nasaman, nice to “see” you. ActiveE would be fun but still a one-off car not meant for widespread production. Looking forward to the i3.

  9. James says:

    Jay’s right on with his video comments. Be the first to do a “FORD vs. CHEVY” type side-by-side on YouTube! Guaranteed increased traffic to the site.

    Sounds like 0-60 is the same as Volt, perhaps feels quicker due to onset of power.

    – Lyle, perhaps a genset trailer is in your future! Fusion Energi is one sweet ride, but for the cost I think PiPrius’ 50+ mpg is outstanding for long trips. Ford’s ad guys are warming up to broadcast: “500 mile range – better than Volt!” for their PHEVs – yet it’s AER and CS mileage aren’t groundbreaking. I will say the car’s a looker though and a substantial size for safety and feel – perhaps better for a family of 5. Too bad MPV5 is vapor…

    I’m very curious about how the MyFordTouch/Sync system actually works – How the nearest outlet finder works vs. Nissan’s and if the system is intuitive now vs. the confusing first gen MFT that caused Ford so much grief and wounded JD Power rankings.

    I’ve been crossing my fingers that GM’s MyLink infotainment system is good. First tests of Malibus with the system have been less than enthusiastic. Hopefully GM massages it before it shows soon on Volts.

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      Jay and I are playing around with doing some YouTube Siskel and Ebert or maybe Abbot and Costello type EV news vids – we’ll see

      I installed the MyFord app – I like it so far!

      1. Jay Cole says:

        We could make it Focus-Volt-LEAF-ActiveE comparison…but it would take me about 45 hours to make it the 450 odd miles to New York, provided I could find 4 L2 chargers en route.

        If you’d meet me in Niagara Falls it would be easier, (=

    2. America1st says:

      The cars I’ve seen around my work environment are the Volts, followed by the Leaf. We need more on the tarmac. I think the Tesla will do well once a Model S is finally produced.

  10. amtoro says:

    Did you consciously write “plenty of cargo room left over”? you must not have looked in the trunk then…

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      I will take a closer look later when I drive home

  11. KeiJidosha says:

    How do you like the FFE brakes compared to the Volt? BTW, Owners Manual says not to drive in L for extended periods.

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      brakes are very grabby – seem stronger than Volt. I didn’t know that about L

      1. That’s probably the one thing I didn’t like about the volt, the brakes. I’ve driven five different volts (Including Lyle’s old CAB volt!) and the braked seemed too soft or ‘squishy’ for me.
        It’s nitpicking, because I really liked the overall ride and performance, but since you were talking brakes…

  12. Airton says:

    Thanks for the great post Lyle, I would also love to test out the FFE so if you ever want to drive the ActiveE you can also contact me.

  13. MrEnergyCzar says:

    This would make a much better second car than the Leaf because it can charge twice as fast…. and it’s LIQUID COOLED BATTERY !!!

    MrEnergyCzar

    1. America1st says:

      Always a thank you to Mr. Energy Czar. Appreciate the videos. Helped me get through a couple of “what the heck is this” moments. You intuitively explore the issues and human interface issues. Hope you get a TV show aimed at the world of energy and using the world’s resources wisely. Everyone can benefit from your unique perspective.

  14. Jeff says:

    Does Ford recommend charging to 80% for best battery life (like Nissan)? I’m interested in the real-world range for someone who drives efficiently but not with extreme hyper-miling techniques.

  15. Dale Ryker says:

    Thanks for this article Lyle. I am looking forward to more installments. I too am a Volt driver, and just put a deposit down on a FFE this week!

  16. Jean-Charles Jacquemin says:

    Hi Lyle,

    My question : have you felt the range anxiety come back ? I enjoy my Ampera so much, and allow me even to drive sometimes in sport mode when the road is quiet and no cyclist is in the way. My wife and I speak about the day when we’ll have to change our old Opel Astra station wagon, we were thinking about a Nissan Leaf or a Renault Zoe but … the FFE seems nw so attractive …

    Bets regards,

    JC

    1. Lyle Dennis says:

      I am used to EVs enough now that there isnt any range anxiety really, plus Ford does a good job with its budget display to keep you comfortable about your range.

      Im sure in some situations range anxiety would appear but I am driving very locally these days.

  17. JEC says:

    Wow! I cannot believe how dedicated some of you guys are. The majority of you guys are original from Lyle’s original Volt website.

    Just dipping a toe back in for a minute.

    Go EV’s!!!!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey JEC!

      The thinking is to get a group of contributers, writers and professionals together, and then write about their particular field of expertise/relationships with different OEMS, and try to form a kind of community of sorts, were we can all kind of hang out, share information and shoot the breeze.

      …nice to see you

  18. America1st says:

    I’m praying every single electric car makes it. Dennis, I still hope you consider a run for Congress some day. We need people who rise above the issues and see the facts. Our country desperately needs to get off foreign oil, our planet to get off a finite resource. Thanks for the inspiration. Finally have my topped out Volt in the garage. Trading in my Lincoln MKX for the Tesla S. Affordable car after all the rebates and my goodness, the style of the Tesla S is incredible, roomy, quiet, and a blast to whip around in. American-made, American-Fueled. If IBM pulls off the battery challenge of “500 MILES” using a fast charge, the world wins. .

  19. America1st says:

    Totally agree with the folks here – EVERY electric car is a win for the cause. All of them. The Ford is wonderful, but for a 33% markup, I’m going with the Tesla. The range of 75 miles won’t work for a Coloradoan. The average 40 miles just doesn’t apply out in the mountainous West. People shoot 30 miles each way to pick up milk. The Tesla basic is 160 miles – that’ll take care of 98% of all our commuters. Great car. It’ll like nice next to my Volt.

  20. America1st says:

    Oh, one last question to this very knowledgeable group. Does the $7500 apply to buying more than one car. Just can’t get a thumbs up or down answer on that. I bought the Volt, but I really do need the $7500 to swing the Tesla. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on numbers of cars. Your thoughts?

    JBFALASKA@YAHOO.COM

    1. Yes, the tax credit can be used for as many EV’s as you buy as long as you make enough money to be able to claim the credit on your taxes. You need to have paid $7,500 in federal tax in order to be able to take a $7,500 tax credit and some people don’t realize that until they do their taxes.

  21. Tom says:

    The industry need to standardize as much as possible on EVs. Like batteries, electric motors, electronics, charging equipment and etc. All the different US manufactures can benefit from the larger volume of shirred components which will drive the price of those parts down. Plus making any replacement easier and cheaper for the owners in the future. Think, the batteries alone are very expensive part but if all the different models of EVs were to use the same standardized battery that would help reduce the cost of everyone’s price. That would help make more sales of EVs which will help reduce the price even more.

  22. JRB says:

    “Interior room was sufficient and bright and I was able to take my family of five along with no problem and plenty of cargo room left over.”

    Really? “Plenty of cargo room?”

    The cargo area of the Focus Electric that I saw in Detroit was 80% full of battery.

  23. JackSprat says:

    Forty grand for a car that can’t travel outside the county is absurd. Even the ultra expensive
    Tesla Model S has an insufficient battery capacity – forget their fraudulent claims of “300
    miles down the Interstate.” Why aren’t Tesla’s customers suing Tesla Motors for that
    baldfaced lie? I just saw data that shows the global temperature for our planet to have
    cooled slightly over the past 16 years. Global warming is dead. So exactly why are people
    still pushing EVs to reduce carbon? Get real, folks and stop pretending that you’re
    saving the planet.