Technology Reviews Takes The FFE For a Spin
APR 20 2012 BY MARC LEE
Tom Simonite over at Technology Review took a look at the Ford Focus Electric. Its funny how each author brings another piece of the puzzle to the table. Just touching on the bits not covered in other reviews we find:
All future models from the automaker will be designed so that they can be produced with gas, electric, or hybrid drivetrains, a strategy embodied by the Ford Focus Electric, made available for the first press test drives last week. GM and Nissan designed their first all-electric mass production cars from scratch, Ford is essentially using a 2010 design with the gas guts switched for electric ones.
Um yeah. I guess this is kind of obvious, but I had missed this critical point. Not sure if this is Tom’s conclusion, or if someone at Ford is saying this point blank, but if this statement is right, it is Ford’s aim to have EVERY model be available in 3 power train flavors. That’s a bold and markedly different strategy than the rest of the individual motorized transport industry.
I found it well-suited to San Francisco traffic, a game of real-life Frogger that rewards those who can quickly zip between lanes and enter gaps that open and close in an eyeblink. The eager response of the electric motor when I put my foot down was a big help, and all the more distinctive due to the near-silence, which also allowed me to hear more of what was happening around me.
Edmund’s take on the FFE handling and acceleration: “heavy and slow-witted.” Here is a second journalist opining quite the opposite. The other being a CNET reviewer.
We actually had to control the ramp-up on the torque to make it less immediate, more human,” Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, told me after the drive. Ford’s research revealed that drivers feel like they’re getting a responsive drive if there’s a lag of about 200 milliseconds or less between the accelerator being pressed and a jump in torque, Layden says. The Focus was adjusted to be less than 200 milliseconds.
Interesting, they have intentionally put in a little delay. Wonder what the delay, if any, is on the Leaf and Volt? I bet the Volt’s “sport mode” is just the standard acceleration with this delay taken out. Personally, I find sport mode kind of “jerky.” You really have to work at it to accelerate smoothly using sport mode. And since it does not actually provide better acceleration I use normal mode almost exclusively.
When I pulled out into the stop-start traffic of downtown San Francisco (ideal conditions for recovering power), the dashboard told me I had 75 miles left in the battery. When my five-mile trip was over, it still said I had 75 miles left, since I had recovered 99 percent of the energy expended.
99 percent recovery does not mean that 99 percent of that energy is available in the battery to be used again. There are significant conversion losses, and you are still better off coasting in neutral and timing it so that you are arriving with speed as the light turns green. Versus achieving 100 percent “recovery” and braking to a stop at the same light. The range number is just a guess and we should not read to much into the fact that he still showed 75 miles at the end of the 5 mile trip. More telling would be the state of charge indicated by the battery monitoring system.
All in all another positive piece for the Focus Electric.