Ford: Purpose-Built Plug-In Vehicles Aren’t What We Do

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 100

Ford Focus Electric Has Some Compromised Cargo Space Due to the Battery Hump

Ford Focus Electric Has Some Compromised Cargo Space Due to the Battery Hump

It is mostly thought the only way to correctly do a pure electric vehicle is to make it purpose-built.

And Yes, The C-Max C-Max Energi Trunk Invaded by Battery

C-Max Energi Trunk Invaded by Battery

The Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S are two prime examples of what you can achieve by going the purpose-built route.  Neither the LEAF nor the Model S have a battery pack that saps up cargo space.

On the smaller side, the BMW i3 may be the best example of how you can make a compact electric vehicle that doesn’t suffer from reduced cargo space.

It’s all in the design.  When going purpose built, the battery pack is almost always under the floorpan.  This is beneficial for several reasons, including a lower center of gravity and the previously mentioned bonus of cargo space.

Ford’s only BEV, the Focus Electric, is not purpose-built and it has that battery hump in the hatch area to prove it.  Likewise, both the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi suffer from cargo holds invaded by the battery pack.

Most likely this would not be an issue if the vehicles in question were designed from the ground up to be plug-ins, but that’s not Ford’s way.

Fusion Energi Trunk

Fusion Energi Trunk

At this week’s Plug-in 2013 Conference in San Diego, Green Car Congress spoke with Michael Tinskey, Ford’s Associate Director, Vehicle Electrification & Infrastructure.  Tinskey’s words tell rest of the story, though we should note that Green Car Congress was asking if Ford’s future holds a B platform (think Ford Fiesta) or smaller plug-in:

Mike Tinskey

“It’s not impossible, it’s just becomes more challenging. In our case, our strategy is built on how to leverage a global platform and get not only a diesel or a gasoline powertrain into the product, but how do you also get an electric powertrain into the product. When you go down to a B-size platform with that type of strategy, you basically would have to use the majority of the trunk space. So we’re likely going to see some of that product, but it’s going to be purpose-built.”

Even if we throw out the B platform reference, we see that Ford’s stance is that its future plug-ins will still have battery packs positioned in locations that compromise the vehicle and that Ford will only do a plug-in if its done on a global platform that also has gas and diesel options offered.

If true, then this will likely position Ford in a tough place as it tries to sell its non-dedicated plug-ins in a market that’s soon to be full of purpose-built plug-ins, especially in the pure EV space.

In fact, we’re already seeing purpose-built plug-in hybrids, too.  Take, for example, the wildly expensive Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and BMW i8.

Unfortunately for Ford, launching new non purpose-built pure electric vehicles probably won’t make sense in a few year’s time, so let’s hope Ford changes its mind on this one.

Source: Green Car Congress

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100 responses to "Ford: Purpose-Built Plug-In Vehicles Aren’t What We Do"

  1. Brian says:

    I don’t begrudge Ford for this approach. They want to make profit on these cars, so they are saving development costs by using a shared platform. I get it. It’s a smart business move. It’s just rather poorly executed.

    I prefer to compare Ford’s approach to VW’s. VW is also using a shared platform, but instead of using the trunk, they plug the battery into the now vacant exhaust/gas tank “holes”. Automotive batteries are just a combination of many small cells anyway. Nobody says you have to put them all in a solid cube – why not rearrange them to fit the space you have?

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      The easiest place to put them to save on costs would be in the vast open space of the trunk. Rearranging them to fit the space you have would be preferred, though that takes extra design work, money, etc…

      1. Brian says:

        Understood. But now you’re still talking about reusing the platform. So the incremental cost is nothing compared to a whole new platform.

      2. Vin says:

        I can see why folks complain about the trunk space in Fusion Energi, but complaining about the trunk space in the Focus Electric is ridiculous. Behind the rear seat, the Focus Electric has 14.5 cu ft… more than the 3-series sedan and Corolla (13 cu ft), Civic sedan (12.5 cu ft), and C-Class sedan (12.6 cu ft). It’s comparable to a Sentra and Cruze.

        1. Ted says:

          I have both a FFE and a corrola and the corrola trunk is three times are big as the Focus electric. I don’t know where they get those numbers but the Focus trunk stinks to say it mildly and I love the car. I don’t think that I would buy another due to the small trunk.

          1. Vin says:

            Take out the “free” trunk organizer, and there will be a lot more space that can be utilized.

            I leave the trunk organizer in place because I just use the FFE as a daily commuter car and occasional grocery-getter.

    2. Anderlan says:

      The gas tank is usually *behind* the rear axle. Not exactly ideal to have a 200-1000 pounds replace that 100 pound tank-plus-10-gallons-of-gas back there, threatening to make the tail wag the dog! It makes total sense why Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla put it in between the axles (under the seat, between the seats, flat under everything respectively).

      1. Foo says:

        Fwiw, in the Ford Focus Electric, the company’s only pure EV, the battery pack is actually behind and under the rear seat, in an “L” shape. As the rear wheels are pushed quite far back in the Focus hatchback, the battery actually ends up being located above and just in front of the rear axle. The car actually has a near 50/50 weight distribution.

      2. Brian says:

        While this may be true, all companies redesign their basic platforms from time to time. There is no reason one couldn’t be well designed to be used for gasoline/diesel/electric. In fact, VW seems to be doing just that. The key is to design a platform for all three, not just take a platform for gasoline/diesel and reuse it for electric.

    3. Assaf says:

      Well, we’ve seen how well that has worked for them with the Focus Electric, haven’t we?

      A classic case of pinching a penny to lose a dollar.

      1. Foo says:

        The car may not be selling well, but that is probably for a lot of other reasons than the particulars of the battery placement. Have you actually driven a Focus Electric? It’s a wonderful car to drive (as most electrics are). Beats driving a gas Focus, and most cars, any day.

        1. Bloggin says:

          The Ford Focus Electric is the ONLY EV available today that is profitable for the automaker. This is because it shares a platform for the ICE Focus which sells over 1,000,000 units globally.

          Looking at truck space, the vast majority of commuter car owners have nothing in their truck, or use it for groceries weekly. If they plan to haul lots of bulk on a daily basis, they buy an SUV for that purpose.

          The truck space issue with the Focus Electric is similar to the range anxiety issue with a 80 mile EV. Those who need an excuse to be against an EV use it, but It becomes an non-issue for an actual EV actual owner.

          1. Assaf says:

            I’m sure it’s a wonderful car to drive. And I bet you it would have been even more wonderful, had they at least partially purpose-built it.

            1. Assaf says:

              @Bloggin: do you have #’s to back up the claim that FFE is more profitable than the Leaf right now?

              Also, I’m sorry but truck space is an issue that limits a car’s appeal. It’s a 5-seater, but usually once you have 5 people in there you also have some of their stuff you need to carry.

              We’re a 5-person family, and when the 5 of us go somewhere (or 4 with a dog) we as a rule also have several backpacks etc. Or – another example – family with small kids and a stroller. I cannot envision the stroller that fits into that thing.

              Just limits the car’s market potential. Seriously so.

              1. David Stone says:

                And I can not envision wasting precious space for a stroller at all 😉

                My son alternately walks and is carried.
                Strollers are for lazy people who raise lazy kids 😉

                But seriously, trunk space is a necessity. You do not always need it, but it is needed regularly.

                1. Ted says:

                  First of all strollers are for lazy kids? My kids used a stroller and the my youngest son was a College Basketball player, hardly physically lazy. Secondly the focus trunk stinks. I have a Focus and I will not buy one again because the trunk is to small. I can’t go golfing thats for sure.

                2. David Stone says:

                  Just in case you did not realise, I meant the stroller comment humorously, although there is a small amount of truth to it.

                  Of course, all people have the abililty to develop beyond their parental programming.

                  My wife is very fit and sporty, despite being brought up in a household where sports were just entertainment.
                  And I met a guy who told me about his how he brought his daughter of mountain hikes and other cool activities. To his disappointment, his now adult daughter’s only physical excercise is getting up in the morning and walking to the elevator.

                  So, it is great that your son is fit and active, but generally, early influence in very strong.

          2. evnow says:

            I bet you have no idea how profitable or unprofitable FFE and Leaf are. Unless you are part of those companies – you just can’t know. And I’m sure, you are not part of Nissan (though I guess you have close links to Ford).

          3. james says:

            In my Volt and Prius the large storage area under the hatchback gets used several times per week. With a wife who packs it full to do trade shows with seats folded down, or weekly Costco trips or tiny bikes for my family of four. These hatches work well for us no need for a taller, heavier CUV. Many people don’t realize just how practical hatchbacks are. In Europe they’re the big thing. If you think you need a

            square, tall storage space get a SUV or
            CUV but you’ll pay daily in efficiency.

            1. james says:

              Flat floors are big. C-Max and FFE suffer in utility with those big battery lumps. Leaf’s cargo area isn’t bad but the non-flat floor makes it less handy than Volt or Prius. LEAF’s well that sits behind the seats is a great place for grocery bags not flying around or not having to be tied down. Costco
              boxes – can’t fit many.

              Definately things to look at.

    4. Anthony says:

      I begrudge Ford a lot for this attitude.

      They’re doing the same thing that Microsoft did 2007-2012. And look where that got them – they went from more than 90% of all internet connected devices down to 30% now, all because they kept focusing on the PC and their existing platforms at the expense of emerging platforms. All while talking shit the iPhone, iPad, and coming out with their own half-assed products in those categories.

      Now its not going to happen to Ford as quickly as it happened to Microsoft – smartphones go through a full generation every 2 years and cars take 5-6 years for a full generation, and batteries improve much slower than microchips; so Ford has more time to recognize and correct their actions. And maybe for the next 3 years this attitude is OK, but by the 2017-20 time frame, if they aren’t singing a different tune when it comes to specialized EV platforms, they’re going to be in a world of hurt.

      1. Assaf says:

        Absolutely.

  2. Assaf says:

    Thanks Eric! That really explains things.

    The first 3 years of mass-market EVs make it clear that purpose-built kicks the daylights’ ass of non-purpose-built.

    IOW, if you want to succeed in the EV market, make it purpose-built, at least partially so.

    Reanult just demonstrated this in-house, with its purpose-built Zoe quickly overtaking its 3 other non-purpose-built offerings.

    Besides being an engineering kludge, non-purpose-built also need to compete with the makers ICE models, everywhere from the executive boardroom, via the factory floor to the dealer showroom. Everywhere they encounter misunderstanding, hostility and downright sabotage. Hence they are destined to be a marginal phenomenon.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Thanks Assaf…I think that when people make their way to the Ford showroom and see that there’s basically no “trunk” on any of these vehicles, the possible sale goes sour. Some still buy…sure. But for the vast majority I’d think that having no trunk is a bigger downfall than having only 4 seats.

      1. Brian says:

        Interestingly, the CMax Energi still has a larger trunk than the Volt. Of course, it’s more vertical, but it’s still useable to someone who knows how to pack, rather than just throwing stuff in the car.

        1. Pam84 says:

          Yes, the CMax Energi has more trunk space than the Volt, but Eric Loveday says the CMax Energi has “basically ‘no’ trunk”. Really Eric?

          1. Assaf says:

            Can you put a typical American family’s stroller into a Cmax Energi’s trunk? That’s the question to ask.

            Anyone selling a family car in America that doesn’t meet this condition, is not selling a family car.

            1. Brian says:

              I have a double stroller (Sit-and-stand) which would absolutely fit in the CMax Energi’s trunk. I have not seen the Fusion Energi, but I’m guessing it won’t fit.

          2. james says:

            Not much. I really like both cars but I’ll take double the EV range over a couple sq ft of squared storage in back. Like that 3 across seating in the Energis though. They’re both nice cars but boy
            that battery pack height back there really cuts into that CUV utility!

        2. Dave R says:

          Having looked at both a CMAX Energi “trunk” and Volt trunk – despite what the numbers say, the Volt’s trunk has a lot more room.

          I mean, you can’t even stick a grocery bag in the trunk of the Energi without it sticking up over the rear seats. The Volt – no problem.

          If you haven’t seen them in person – just google each of the following terms:

          “Chevy volt trunk” and “CMAX Energi trunk”. The Volt’s trunk looks to be at least twice as large. The regular CMAX hybrid has a similar amount of room as the Volt – which is why the hybrid is selling well and the Energi is not.

          1. Brian says:

            I disagree completely. Again, it goes back to knowing how to pack. It’s vertical space, for sure, and unfortunately a lot is above the seat back. However, the space can still be used safely.

            Oh, and the Volt has a huge opening between the seats which can cause just as much trouble if things aren’t packed properly.

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              You need to update your info.

              That so called “huge” gap is being addressed with 2013 and 2014 mode with either arm rest and “gap filler”.

              At least the Volt’s rear seat fold flat. It is perfectly okay to carry a stack of plywood that is 40 inches wide. I did it….

        3. bill howland says:

          HI Brian..

          Not a big ford fan in general lately, although I did like the now discontinued Mercury Marquis…..NObody’s tried to electrify this car.. There’s plenty of room for a large battery EV or PHEV version of this car, without compromising trunk space….

          People who complain the volt is too small wouldn’t have a problem with an EV the size of the old Chrysler Imperials, where you could easily seat 4 in the backseat.

          There are plenty of market niches that EV’s could easily fill. Too bad car makers usually lack imagination.

          GM is the real mystery here. They’ve already . designed the Crossvolt. Why not make some of them? Only thing on the market ’till the ‘x’ comes out, and probably always much cheaper.

          1. Brian says:

            I agree. Nobody seems very interested in electrifying large cars. These cars would also save the most fuel. It seems that only Mitsubishi has tried a large format plug-in (the outlander PHEV), but it won’t be available in the US for another two years!

            If GM made the Crossvolt, it would have a much wider market appeal.

        4. David Murray says:

          I can put my folding bicycle in the back of my Volt, which I do regularly. I doubt it would fit in a Cmax Energi.

          1. Puzzlegal says:

            My husband has carried his regular bicycle in the back of our C-max energi, with the rear seats down. He did take off both (quick release) wheels, but the frame fit fine.

            I think I could get a stroller in without lowering the rear seats.

            But it’s definitely a limitation of the vehicle, and I don’t think I would have bought the thing if my husband hadn’t really really wanted a plug-in car.

  3. Bloggin says:

    Ford makes a very clear statement that it’s is the smallest ‘B Segment’ where truck/hatch space will be used for battery storage, but the article takes the grand leap to say that ALL Ford electrified vehicles going forward will do the same. Which is not the case.

    Purpose built from a drivetrain perspective means the placement of electrified components are designed to fit within the platform with the least amount of impact on interior/cargo space.

    The short platform B segment, where Ford is speaking about the next gen Fiesta, should get an electrified powertrain. http://insideevs.com/video-ford-fiesta-rear-in-wheel-drive-electric-vehicle/

    Fiesta is a Global vehicle selling over 700k units annually. Focus is also a Global vehicle selling over 1,000,000 units annually. Fitting electrified components into the global platform enables massive cost savings and profitability on each model. Unlike the ‘purpose built’ Tesla and Leaf models who are both sold at a loss for the manufacturer.

    The next gen larger C(Global Focus/C-Max) and C/D(Global Fusion/Mondeo/Edge/MKX) Segment platforms will be able to contain hybrid and Energi size battery packs under platform/rear seats with no impact on interior/cargo space than current generation.

    Smaller B segment vehicles are already space challenged, so battery pack must be stored under back seat and truck/hatch. Similar to Spark EV. .http://www.autotribute.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/New-Chevrolet-Spark-EV-battery-interior.jpg

    While at the same time, offering cost savings to the consumer via global platforms, and profitability for the manufacturer, which enables the availability of more electrified vehicle model options.

    Currently Ford offers 3 Hybrid, 2 Plug-In Hybrid and 1 EV model. 2014/MY2015 should add the MKZ Energi plug-in hybrid, MKC Hybrid, next gen Edge Hybrid and Energi, next gen MKX Hybrid, MKX Energi. With more and more electrified models launching globally each year.

    Currently Nissan offers 1 electrified vehicle model, Tesla offers 1 model. GM offers 2 Plug-In Hybrid models sharing a platform with the ICE Cruze.

    It is in the cost savings of using shared global platforms, that allow the automaker to offer many more electrified vehicle options that consumers want. While still maintaining profitability that makes it feasible to offer even more electrified vehicle options as consumer demand grows.

    Trying to create single purpose ‘purpose built’ vehicles for such a small consumer base, greatly limits consumer options, as the manufacturer currently must take a loss on each model.

    The Nissan/Renault Alliance is beginning to understand this, which is why Nissan is launching the Pathfinder Hybrid for 2014, and Renault is developing their hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains to fit current ICE models. And one or more of the current Renault EVs could be discontinued.

    So no….’purpose built’ plug-in vehicles is not what Ford does. But becoming the worlds largest provider of electrified vehicle models is Ford’s plan.

    1. Brian says:

      “Fitting electrified components into the global platform enables massive cost savings and profitability on each model. Unlike the ‘purpose built’ Tesla and Leaf models who are both sold at a loss for the manufacturer.”

      You claim that Ford makes a profit on each plug-in but Tesla and Nissan do not. Please provide references.

      1. Bloggin says:

        There have been so many articles. Just google it.

        1. Aaron says:

          “Just Google it.” No, it’s your job to prove your point.

          Nissan and Tesla both make money on their vehicles.

          http://gigaom.com/2010/05/04/the-nissan-leaf-why-it-will-be-profitable-from-the-get-go/

          http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1083988_tesla-makes-money-on-model-s-35k-per-car-selling-zev-credits

          If Ford was making money on the FFE, don’t you think they would do some marketing for it? ANY marketing?

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/ford-focus-electric-car-en-route-to-dealers-good-luck/

          1. Pam84 says:

            Incorrect, Tesla does not make an operating profit.

            1. pjwood says:

              Take supercharger development out of operating, and realize that ZEV credit revenue is legit.

          2. ModernMarvelFan says:

            @Aaron,

            Did you even read your own link?

            That link said LEAF would be in the black b/c of years of investment in electric and battery technology.

            So, where does those $$$ come from? It implies that those investement isn’t part of the car cost.

            I think that implies Nissan is making a “gross profit” on the car. That is a good thing. But I doubt that it is a “net profit” if you include initial R&D and tooling cost.

            Also, if it is so “profitable”, then why doesn’t NIssan allocate more production capacity in the same TN plant to LEAF instead of Altima and other ICE models? Sure, battery production is limited. But if it is so profitable, then just ramp it up…

            I think most of the high volume plugins are profitable on a gross margin basis (Volt, LEAF and Model S). But I don’t think any of them are making profit yet when initial R&D is included. Those initial cost should be spread across its entire generation of designs, not just any given year…. In this sense, they are all making money. If it doesn’t, GM/Nissan wouldn’t have matched the price war and advertise in trying to sell Volt and LEAF as much as they can. Tesla doesn’t have to compete on price.

        2. Brian says:

          Ok, let’s objectively define profit here – namely on a per-unit basis, the cars cost less to produce and distribute than they earn in revenue. Take out development and other expenses (like Tesla’s superchargers). By this definition, both the Leaf and Model S are profitable.

          There have been many articles. Google it.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            By your definition, even the Volt is profitable.

            But the R&D and initial investment has to be paid back sometimes…

            1. ClarksonCote says:

              Most accountants who understand basic accounting would also concur that the Volt is profitable. R&D costs are always amortized over the expected total volume of a vehicle that benefits from said R&D costs.

            2. Brian says:

              True. The Volt is profitable. Which is good – it encourages GM to make and sell as many as possible in order to recoup that R&D and initial investment…

    2. Jesse Gurr says:

      “2014/MY2015 should add the MKZ Energi plug-in hybrid, MKC Hybrid, next gen Edge Hybrid and Energi, next gen MKX Hybrid, MKX Energi.”

      How do you know this? Is this just a guess or do you have insider info? Because I’ve heard this rumor before and I would like to believe it but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. Bloggin says:

        Don’t hold your breath…lol

        Look out for the LA Auto Show in Nov. It’s the electrified vehicle showplace, and should verify a few of the electrified vehicles, if not all listed.

    3. Mint says:

      Nissan and Tesla sell EVs at a loss? Says who? You and your napkin analysis?

      Tesla has a 22% gross margin and rising. They have low income because they’re investing profits from a single model into superchargers and R&D for at least 2 more models.

      Nissan insists its making money on the LEAF even after the price cut. You’ll have to show some evidence for me to believe otherwise.

      Ford’s feels EVs are a way to milk extra profits from brand-loyal buyers that are looking for something unique. That’s why their Fusion Energi and Focus EV are grossly overpriced.

      1. Bloggin says:

        Tesla’s profits come from selling EV credits. Same with Nissan and the Leaf. Renault does not claim any profits from EV sales.

        1. Brian says:

          EV credits are a source of revenue which is derived from the sale of the car. It is perfectly legit to count this towards profit, just as it is legit to count the $7500 tax credit off the price of the car to the consumer.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            But that credits depending on other automaker’s purchase, and only “loosely” depending on the car sale itself….

      2. Unplugged says:

        The Focus Electric “grossly overpriced”? Your bias and lack of knowledge is showing. The fully optioned Focus Electric is comparable in price to the Leaf SL. I guess maybe you think the SL is “grossly overpriced” as well?

    4. james says:

      The proprietary body and underpinnings has worked quite well for the Prius line with millions sold and great profits. Toyota needs to move on, of course, to further electrify – so l’ll beg to disagree
      that Ford won’t go there as a good business decision.

  4. Pam84 says:

    The battery in the trunk seems like a lot safer location than under the front axle line in an area where that is the most likely to directly hit road debris. Yes, I’m lookin at you Model S.

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Raised center of gravity, weight balance problems, problems locating the rear motor, etc. Tesla’d be better off beefing up the battery ‘skidplate’, and even then, you’re only adding sigmas to an event which can still happen. A 1/4″ 6-4 Titanium battery ‘bathtub’ could be the way to go.

    2. Aaron says:

      The Model S issue is a statistical error. That won’t likely ever happen again.

      Of the 150,000+ ICE car fires every year, I would still rather be in a Model S. It detected the fault, allowed the driver to safely pull over and exit before anything happened.

      Try that same test with an ICE vehicle. Flaming, pressurized gasoline everywhere immediately.

      Ford Focus Electric would’ve probably done poorly too. Metal object lodging itself into the inverter/motor? Not a pretty sight.

    3. Bloggin says:

      Exactly….having the batter in the font of the platform eliminates the crumple zone that is normally there to protect the gas tank. It does seem safer where Ford electrified vehicles have their batteries starting under back seat and going under trunk area.

      The Leaf has the battery starting up front under the drivers seat also.

      Based on Ford’s plan, the batteries will remain in the safest place, mostly in the rear of the car.

      1. Eric Loveday says:

        If we need to position the battery in the safest place within a vehicle than we’re already assuming it’s (the battery) unsafe. That’s simply not true.

        The Tesla Model S has the longest front crumple zone of any passenger vehicle ever made.

        1. Pam84 says:

          Hey Eric, how long is the rear crumple zone on the Model S for the rear-facing passengers?

          Can you please provide that to us?

          Thank you

          1. Eric Loveday says:

            The focus of the previous comment was on front crumple zone. Rear was not mentioned.

            1. Pam84 says:

              So you’re saying you are an expert on front crumple zones for “any passenger vehicle ever made” but you know absolutely nothing about the rear crumple zone on just one vehicle?

              Ok, can you at least point us to the front crumple zone data for “all passenger vehicles ever made” that you reference?

              Did you find it at crumplezonedatafor everycarevermade.com?

              1. Eric Loveday says:

                Not all vehicles have rear crumple zones. The Model S in particular is one such vehicle where the rear is actually reinforced if the third-row seats are added. The rear section of the Model S is not a crumple zone. The rear of the Model S is not designed to absorb energy, but rather to protect occupants from intrusion. this is even more true when the third-row seats are optioned. Tesla adds a structural reinforcement bar in the rear to further strengthen the area. As such, Tesla does refer to the rear section of the Model S as a crumple zone.

                The front of the Model S has the largest (depth in inches) crumple zone of any passenger car available today.

          2. james says:

            I sold Volvos in the eighties. Lots of folks opted for the larger 740-760 wagons that had optional rearward-facing child seats much like the Tesla. Since Volvo is synonymous for safety,
            I don’t see those seats as a bad idea. Just think, 3 row utility from a low sleek sedan!

        2. pjwood says:

          ..and it is inherently safest because of the stability low weight, between the axles, brings.

          Am I hired?

    4. Mint says:

      And which is safer when you get rear ended?

      What do you think is more common? A pathological case of peculiar road debris capable of puncturing a thick steel plate? Or getting smacked from the rear and having your trunk smashed in?

      1. Pam84 says:

        Good point Mint!

        Those poor rear-facing passenger seat in the Model S are indeed in a VERY precarious position, mere inches from the point of a rear impact.

        Not to mention how close the rear hatch is to the passenger’s heads.

        I don’t think they really though it out all that much. Just like the front passenger seats which lack anti-whiplash protection, or even any adjustment to the headrest.

        1. james says:

          Pam, pls see my comment above.

        2. james says:

          These are not seating for adults – obviously you need to use average discretion before seating a too-large individual back there.

  5. David Murray says:

    If you are taking an existing platform and turning it into a plug-in hybrid, that is more difficult because you can’t use the gas-tank area or exhaust channel. After all, you still have a gas-tank and exhaust. So the cargo area is all that is left. An EV can be converted decently well such as the Chevy Spark EV. The battery pack essentially takes the place of a gas tank.

    1. Bloggin says:

      The design of the new shared platforms takes the electrified components into consideration when built. Just as it has to be designed to handle the various size diesel and gasoline engines.

    2. Mint says:

      The Ford C-Max still uses a peculiarly large amount of space for its pack. There’s only 6 kWh more battery in a C-Max Energy vs C-Max Hybrid, or 1/14th the size of a Model S’s pack. It absolutely should not take away 5 cubic feet of space. Tesla packs almost 10 kWh per cubic foot.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        But the same thing happens with Fusion Energi and Accord PHEV.

        Even the Accord Hybrid with only 1.2KWh Li-ion battery loses at least 2cu ft of space in the trunk.

      2. Puzzlegal says:

        I’m sort of hoping there will be a third-party upgrade available in a few years that packs the same battery in less space, or a much “larger” battery in the same space. 🙂

    3. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Prius Plugin has managed NOT to lose any cargo room by including a small battery.

      Neither does Toyota ERAV4 which has exact the same interior dimension as ICE version.

      Plugin hybrids will naturally take more space. Since it has two sets of powertrain. But that is trade off you are getting since you have the capability of running on either. It is a hedging bet against any one of the energy source.

  6. Brian, if you examine how a Focus BEV arranges its batteries, some are in the “gas tank” area and some are in the rear cargo area. See http://boronextrication.com/files/2012/05/2012_Ford_Focus_Electric_HV_Battery_Disconnect_Extrication_Safety.jpg.

    Since the market for pure EV vehicles is currently small, and not clear that it is profitable for mass market type vehicles yet, I think Ford, GM, and others who make EVs from modified gas platforms are reasonable.

    1. Brian says:

      Interesting. I stand corrected.

  7. Aaron says:

    The i-MiEV is a great example of a conversion vehicle done right. There is no intrusion into the cabin anywhere. The rear seats still fold perfectly flat.

    The Fiat 500e is another good example. So is the Honda Fit EV, except it loses its “Magic Seats”.

    No, Ford, you’re just doing a terrible job on your conversions.

    1. Bloggin says:

      Mitsubishi sold 2
      Fiat sold 50
      Honda sold a total of 86 plug-in vehicles
      Toyota sold 1319

      Ford sold 1,618 plug-in vehicles in Sept. Ford actually sold 5,926 hybrid and plug in vehicles in Sept. An overall 122% increase over Sept 2012.

      So it looks like Ford is doing something right.

      1. Brian says:

        Nissan Leaf 1,953 YTD 16,076
        All Fords 1,618 YTD 8,970

        Looks like that one-model, BEV-only, strategy is doing something even better for better for Nissan.

        Of course the three purpose-built platforms (Volt, Leaf, and Model S) dominate the sales with over 2/3 between them. This has helped BEVs to outsell EREVs and PHEVs combined year-to-date.

        1. Bloggin says:

          All Ford Electrified Vehicles(Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, EV) = 67,232 YTD.

          FYI……the Chevy Volt is a plug-in hybrid.

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            No, it is not a plug-in hybrid in the traditional sense. If you lump it in with all the other plug-in hybrids you’re doing a disservice to EV technology.

            Plug-in hybrids in the “traditional” sense still rely on a conventional transmission that includes the gasoline engine providing motive power at some speeds, even with battery charge remaining.

            The Volt is an Extended Range EV, the electric motors are always the source of propulsion, and even at maximum acceleration or maximum speed, the gasoline engine will not come on if you have battery charge remaining.

            1. Brian S says:

              Yes, the Volt is a EREV not a PHEV. Even adding both types together BEVs are outselling them in the US this year. Even more so globally.

    2. Pam84 says:

      Are you suggesting they should have put a smaller battery in the Focus so it would have a shorter range like the I-MiEV?

      I suppose that would be one option, but given consumers have range anxiety, I think it was smarter to have a battery under the seat PLUS add additional battery capacity in the trunk to increase the range.

      The i-MiEV is really an example of what an EV should not be, something American consumers would see as a glorified golf cart. The i-MiEV’s poor safety ratings, battery fire problems and short range would eliminate it from most consumer’s shopping list.

      Given that, I would say the i-MiEV is a good example of what NOT to do.

      1. alohart says:

        “Are you suggesting they should have put a smaller battery in the Focus so it would have a shorter range like the I-MiEV?”

        No, I am suggesting that Ford should have modified the floor pan as did Mitsubishi so that the battery pack could be placed there as it is with most purpose-built BEV’s.

        “The i-MiEV’s poor safety ratings, battery fire problems and short range would eliminate it from most consumer’s shopping list.”

        How is a 4-star safety rating in the U.S. and Europe “poor”?

        Please inform us about the i-MiEV battery fire problems. Mitsubishi had some battery packs overheat, but these were mostly in their factory. I’m aware of only 1 i-MiEV that has experienced an overheated battery, but no fire occurred.

        The i-MiEV was the first BEV to reach 10,000 in sales. As of the end of 2012, over 22,000 i-MiEV’s and their rebadged Citroën and Peugeot cousins had been sold. So many consumers did not exclude it from their shopping lists. But having been developed in 2009 based on an ICE car first sold in 2006, it needs to be refreshed. Being manufactured only in Japan, it has become too expensive.

        The i-MiEV might be an example of what not to do today when designing a BEV but not when it was designed years ago.

    3. Vin says:

      How can you call the i-MiEV a conversion done right when the platform chosen is just plain wrong to begin with?

      Let’s see… it’s ugly, slower to 60mph than a 4500lb 5-cylinder Hummer H3, inferior range (62 miles?), and…get this… 1.5cu ft less cargo space behind the rear seats when compared to your object of desire, the Focus Electric.

      Also… according to specs easily found online, the 500e conversion “intrudes” into over 20% of the ICE cargo space behind the rear seats, and the Fit EV conversion intrudes into over 40%.

      Aaron, you just did a terrible job on choosing an EV. Get over it. And get your facts straight.

      1. alohart says:

        “How can you call the i-MiEV a conversion done right when the platform chosen is just plain wrong to begin with?”

        “It must not be plain wrong to have been the first BEV to reach 10,000 in sales and to have sold over 22,000.

        “it’s ugly”

        A purely subjective opinion. For those interested in buying a BEV with very efficient packaging, it’s difficult to beat the i-MiEV.

        “slower to 60mph than a 4500lb 5-cylinder Hummer H3”

        This might be important to those (testosterone-driven) who buy cars based on acceleration, but for a city car, this just should not be a major consideration.

        “inferior range (62 miles?)”

        For you, maybe, but not for those who commute the average distance or less.

        “and…get this… 1.5cu ft less cargo space behind the rear seats when compared to your object of desire, the Focus Electric.”

        It’s pretty damning that a car, the Focus Electric, that’s 9″ wider and 28″ longer than the i-MiEV has only 1.5 cu. ft. more cargo space behind its rear seats. The fact that it has 18 cu. ft. less cargo space with its rear seats folded down indicates how poorly designed the Focus Electric really is.

        1. Vin says:

          I agree with you, the i-MiEV is an okay design for a city car, or a neighborhood electric vehicle.

          For folks like me that need to get up to speed in a hurry to safely enter the HOV lane and don’t carry a bunch of crap in the trunk, the FFE is great.

          As far as the size comparison – FFE is larger (fortunately), and it has 10 inches more front legroom and 3 inches more headroom at the front seats than the MiEV. Wider track and less height (5 inches less) help the FFE handle waaay better than the MiEV. Finally, larger size = more room for a bigger battery and longer range.

          Which brings me back to the article… who cares if Ford or anyone else is going to bring another tiny EV to the US market? Aren’t there enough? I’d rather have a fully electric Altima or Fusion.

  8. @Foo +1

    The focus is my daily driver and although their may be people who wouldn’t buy it because it lacks a few extra cubic feet of trunk space, i’ts never been a constraint for me. It’s a great little car, I like it far better than the ICE Focuses I’ve rented whil traveling.

    The main problem is, Ford just hasn’t shown any enthusiasm for marketing the car, probably because the margin is so much lower than the high volume ICE.

    Ford pitches the message of giving people a choice of drivetrain, which is a great strategy. But dealers don’t pitch this car on an equal footing, it’s the red-headed stepchild.

    A shame, because it really is a terrific car, and a bargain at current lease prices.

    1. Bloggin says:

      For the Focus Electric is a combination of production constraints and demand.

      The MAP facility, that is the ONLY manufacturing facility for North America for the Focus ICE, Focus Electric, C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi is over 110% capacity now.

      The ICE Focus sales are most impacted by the constraints. With the ramp up of C-Max sales in NA, Focus inventory has dropped and sales are down 15% over 2012. Which also means Ford can’t push the Focus Electric either, because they can’t really make more. But it’s available to order for anyone nationwide.

      But this is expected to be resolved with Fiesta moving from it’s Mexico plant to Thailand before MY2016, and that non-tarrif Mexico plant becoming back-up production for Focus and C-Max. Allowing more capacity for the next gen Focus Electric, where by that time the demand for the EV will be greater. Similar to how Flat Rock is back up for the Hermosillo plant for current new Fusion, and could be for current new MKZ if necessary.

  9. vdiv says:

    What a rancidulus forum! Can’t we all get along?

    And admit that the Coda was the best of them all? 😉

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Good one…The safest too. Ha

  10. ModernMarvelFan says:

    I would say that LEAF does have battery pack that sags the cargo room.

    That big bump in the back is exactly the issue. Sure, it is better than other plugins, but the bump is still there. They could have made it flat.

    Telsa S and i3 are really ground up EVs with no platform sharing….

    1. Tim says:

      Model Year 2013 LEAF got rid of the smaller battery hump in the back.

      When I test drove vehicles, I really liked the drive of the CMax Energi and thought the price point wasn’t too bad either. Relatively unhelpful and unknowledgable sales people did not help the sale, and the loss of space in the back sealed the deal for me against the Energi. Not a bad vehicle by any means, had Ford done a better job taking up less space for the battery, I could have forgiven the poor sales people component and chosen this car.

      Ultimately chose the LEAF instead and do not regret it. Wonderful drive, and the Nissan sales people were reasonably trained, knowledgable, and most of them had driven a LEAF for a bit so they could relay their experiences too, all this from a Minnesota dealer…

    2. Brian says:

      That big bump is not battery, but the charger and other electronics. As Tim pointed out, it is gone in the 2013 because those electronics have been integrated under the hood. As you told me above, “you need to update your info” 😉

      (It turns out the EV world is changing rapidly – it’s hard to keep up with every little detail)

  11. Martin T. says:

    I still wonder about Ford – How they going these days? still screwing $ out of all their suppliers at the cost of quality and durability?

    At lest Tesla Volt and Leaf have some quality components!

  12. Mike says:

    “When you go down to a B-size platform with that type of strategy, you basically would have to use the majority of the trunk space. So we’re likely going to see some of that product, but it’s going to be purpose-built.” Doesn’t that imply they will build a purpose-built electric vehicle in the B-class segment, or am I misreading something?

    1. Gary H says:

      Yes, that’s how I interpreted it too. But I guess everyone else glossed over it or chose to interpret it differently.

  13. Josephus says:

    Leased a Focus EV after testing a Leaf.

    While the Leaf is purpose built, it is not in the same “class” as the Focus EV, not even the SL. The only thing the Leaf does better is room. That’s it. It’s display’s and amenities all felt cheap and dated compared to the Focus.

    Do I wish the Focus was more “purpose built”? Sure. It would be even better. But they did such a good job with it as a conversion that they beat Nissan’s purpose built car, at least in my opinion of enjoyment factor.

    To bad such a good execution is merely a compliance car.

    This means that in three years we have no brand loyalty to Ford and are anxious to see who puts out the best at that time.