How Will You Get Your Focus Electric Home?

SEP 7 2012 BY MARC LEE 18


Stacey and I with Jason Tucker at Richmond Ford (pic: Jason Tucker)


On August 23 my wife and I took delivery of a Ford Focus Electric (FFE) from Richmond Ford in Virginia.  I reserved the Focus Electric in March, and was told to expect a delivery date of late September early October.  In July, sales consultant Jason Tucker informed me that the car would be built August 6th, with an expected delivery of August 20th.  And that is exactly what happened.

Having purchased a Volt last year it has been interesting to compare the two experiences.  On the Volt side, there is a way to track the progress of your car from production to shipping to dealer.  There appears to be no equivalent on the Ford side, so it is nice that Jason kept me informed and that the information was spot on.  When you’ve plunked down your deposit you like to know what is happening.

If you don’t live in a region peppered with charging stations, getting a battery only vehicle like the FFE home from the dealer can be a challenge.   Because of the very limited launch of the FFE, many early adopters have been forced to go outside of their local market to obtain one.  Whit Gallman, one of the earliest to take possession of an FFE, actually towed a car trailer from NC to NY to pick up his FFE.

Ford’s Most Efficient Vehicle Sandwiched Between Two of its Least Efficient (pic: Jason Tucker)

Luckily for me a dealer with allocation was within the single charge range of the car…or so I hoped. Richmond Ford is about 82 miles by back roads and about  94 miles by highway from my house, according to Mapquest.  You may have noticed that recently Ford and GM have defected from Google Maps to Mapquest.   Given that the Focus Electric is EPA rated at 76 miles, there was some cause for concern, dare I say, range anxiety.  Having driven an EV since 2000, I thought I was over that, turns out I wasn’t.

This was entirely reasonable I suppose, given that I only had about 15 minutes behind the wheel of an FFE, on a brief test ride.   I knew that some time behind the wheel of the thing would build confidence in what kind of range it would deliver, but at this moment I was genuinely concerned about running out of electrons before running out of road between Richmond and home.

Entering my destination into the FFE showed 86 miles to my destination, and a fully charged battery with 80 miles of predicted range, which the car conveniently calculated for me as -6.  My wife chimed in with the suggestion that I familiarize myself with any special towing recommendations.  She’s helpful like that.   Based on my reading I was still confident that I would make it, although the -6 had me laughing a bit nervously as I tossed out a joke about needing a very long extension cord.

All joking aside I had packed an extension cord so that if push should come to shove I could stop and beg use of a 120v outlet somewhere.  A back road route was specifically chosen so that we could keep the speed between 45-55mph.  The down side to the “back road route” was that there was no public charging station along the way.   The highway route had a charge station, but it was only 120v, which translates to around 4 miles of recharge for every hour.  And the highway route was 12 miles longer.  I could easily end up waiting 6 hours or more to make up for the longer route and faster speeds.

Since the car comes with road side assistance from Ford I decided to take my chances with the back roads.  I was also buoyed by the results of the Nissan LEAF Range Estimator App, which after taking in a multitude of factors, predicted a range of  91 miles.

Getting out of Richmond was a bit harrowing.  I immediately lost the wife who was trailing me in the Volt. When I last saw her, as we were leaving the dealership, she was ear to ear grin.  And why wouldn’t she be, she was sitting in a car that would seamlessly switch over to gas when its battery was spent.  And though I am certain she loves me, she does revel in sharing stories of my gaffes, which I seem to supply in a never ending stream.  Her favorite being the time I put the tractor in the James River.  Trust me, you do that one time, you might as well throw yourself in the River because you will never hear the end of it.  And no matter how much she messes something up you can’t say nothing, cause well cause she never drove a tractor into a river!  There can be no doubt she was sitting back there thinking how funny it would be telling and retelling “the time Marc bought an electric car and had to get it towed home on the very first drive..mwa ha ha ha ha…..ha!”

Throw into the mix a construction project every other block on West Broad St. and the navigation vixen yammering at me because I had blown past the road she wanted due to one of the aforementioned construction projects… and we were off to a bang up start. And now we were up to -7, and I was only driving like 20 mph! In response I turned off the radio, and adjusted the AC to a more balmy 75 degrees and tried not to stare at the -7

After 15 minutes of this hell, the tide began to shift.  I pulled over so my wife could catch up and resume vulture patrol.  The navigation lady gave up on her chosen road and accepted the route we were now traveling and the FFE decided I was only at -5.  We were definitely moving in the right direction. Within 30 minutes I was down to -2, and feeling confident enough to put the AC back to 72f.  A few miles more and I judged the radio privledge could also resume.

In the end I would estimate that I drove at 45 mph 60% of the time, 50 mph 25% of the time and 55 mph maybe during the last 5% of the trip, with the balance at lower speeds dictated by lights and such. The trip ended up being 80 miles.  At the end the car showed I had 11 miles of range left.  I didn’t even trigger the low battery warning.  For those keeping score, the LEAF range estimator app was spot on.


Is it wrong to use this Nissan LEAF app for the Focus Electric?

Looking at shows that I used 18 kWh for that trip.  Averaged 223 Wh/mile, brake regen score of 99%, and a driving score of 93.  Oh yeah, Ford has a whole series of things to hook you into their myfordmobile website, among them achievements, trip and charging stats, and driving scores.

Here is the weird part.  MFM says the car fully recharged in 2 hours.  And indeed, the Schneider EV Link charger only had 2 bars showing which indicates 2 hours or less of charging.  How can that be?  How could it recharge 18 kWh worth in 2 hours, with a 6.6 kWh charger?   The next day I drove 30 miles and it charged to 100% in 30 minutes?  What the?  Even substracting the 4 miles of regen it calculates, that means it recharged 26 miles in 30 minutes?  That would be 52 in one hour?  What is happening here? The next day I drove 46 miles and it recharged in 2 hours.  23 miles of recharge per hour is more what I would expect.

I did make an effort to get to the bottom of this charging enigma, but its going to take someone with a TED, and the  patience to log the data, neither of which I possess at this time.  I did use a B&D power monitor to determine that for at least the first 15 minutes of one charging session it was pulling 7.2 kW.  That margin above 6.6 could be efficiency losses or the HVAC running on the car to cool the battery or who knows what.  The 240v Voltec charger which was rated at 3.3kW also tested out at 3.6 kW, which is almost an identical margin.

Tomorrow I’ll dig into some of the likes and dislikes on the FFE.

Categories: Ford, General


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18 Comments on "How Will You Get Your Focus Electric Home?"

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Well written article Marc. I enjoyed reading it and found myself chuckling at more than one spot during the reading. (especially about your wife and the tractor incident…seems like we are both married to the same women).

Enjoy your FFE!

Thanks for the good read! I always enjoy a lighter EV story.

I had considered a Ford EV, which would have put my in a similar situation – the nearest dealer is nearly 90 miles away! I gave up on waiting for Ford, though, and settled for a Leaf (from a dealer 3 miles away).

FWIW, the 6.6kW versus 7.2kW (and likewise the 3.3kW/3.6kW) is exactly the same difference as 110V/120V. For example: 110V * 30A = 6.6kW but 120V * 30A = 7.2kW. I won’t go into the full discussion of 110V/120V, but I suspect this is where those different numbers come from.

Please do go into the 110/120 discussion. I have never understood it. Is it true that some places have 110 and some have 120??

It used to be that we got 110/220V supplied to the home here in the USA.

But that was a long time ago.

Utilities standardized on 120/240V long ago and that is what you’ll find everywhere unless your utility doesn’t have it’s transformers adjusted properly.

So use 120/240V when referring to voltage here in the USA. 110/220V is no longer correct, but old habits die hard.

My Voltec charger is rated at 3.3 kw at 240V (not 220V)
so I don’t think that would be causing the higher outputs Mark was talking about

Your Voltec charger is rated at 240V/15A = 3.6 kW, not 3.3 kW.

The specs are wrong – plain and simple.

Unless it adjusts the the pilot signal at high voltages to reduce maximum power to 3.3 kW. If it did this then on a nominal 240V it would limit current to 14A. I’ve never heard of an EVSE doing this – typically they have a fixed current limit regardless of input voltage.

I don’t think parts often have a rating equivalent to what they draw, for safety reasons. The Volt uses a 3.3kW charger.

So the Voltec is either 3.3kW and has some padding in its listed current for safety, or can draw slightly more than 3.3kW to help power the heater/AC during a remote start condition.

My Voltec charger says 240v/3.6kW right on it. Double check yours. If it says 3.3 I suspect it’s mislabelled.

If you look closely at the second graphic it clearly states Brake score 99% – 6 miles from regen. I think the battery indicator on the left (the battery graphic) that shows Energy used includes the energy recovered from the regen system. In other words, the reason the times are off is that you went downhill enough or braked enough to add a lot of energy back into battery. You didn’t actually put that much energy into the battery with the charger, some came from your impressive driving.
I think it’s the battery graphic that’s throwing us.

Oops, I see you tried to account for that. I still find the battery graphic a little misleading in that it shows how much you’ve used not how much came from the battery. That’s what you need to know anyway.

A great looking car! Congratulations!

Now that you know you can go to Richmond on a full charge would you go back to visit? 🙂

The onboard charger is typically rated for it’s output power, not input. And it seems to be an approximation when people refer to 3.3/6.6 kW.

Your typical 240V EVSE is rated for 30A which is the same 7.2 kW rate you measured.

The charge time data is also screwy. It’s said that I charged my Volt from empty to full in under 2 hours before, and we all know a full recharge time is 4 hours.

Actually the EVSE cannot limit the power taken by the car. All it can do is turn the juice on or off like a light switch. Ex: my Tesla would like 70 amps, but my Schneider charging dock only can take 30… How do they work together? The schneider tells the Tesla it can only handle 30 amps, and therefore the tesla limits its draw to 30 amps. @George S. Here’s a perfect example of the 110 – 120 thingy thats been bothering you. In a real world the pressure (voltage) is never the same but is dependent on load. The more incompetent the architect, engineer, or power company, the wider the swing in pressure. There is a new State college Art Gallery in Buffalo NY (Birchfield-Penny) that had to put in 3 ‘alternative vehicle charging parking spots” to get a gov’t grant. Only problem is the spots are 200 feet away from the building, and they only ran Saturday Helper #12 AWG romex (thats cheap kitchen appliance wire for you Europeans). Before you start charging, the pressure (voltage) at the outlet is 122 volts. Once you start drawing 12 amps, the voltage drops to 105, 103, or 101 depending… Read more »

There seems to be a great worry here that the Volt has a 3.3 kw charger, but the $499 Voltec is 3.6 kw. So what? The volt only loads the Voltec charger up to 92% of its capacity.

I measured it once a long time ago, but I think the volt can only take 14 amps under any circumstances. So its only an ideal 3300 watts. At one public charging station I use, the voltage is usually around 200 volts while in operation. So then the Volt is only taking 2750 watts due to its 14 amp limitation. You can turn the headlights, heater, seat heater, stereo, and airconditioning on full blast, and it still won’t draw more than 14 amps. All that other stuff does is just slow down the charging rate assuming the battery isn’t full yet.