Ford recently announced that its Michigan Assembly Plant has begun manufacturing the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, an all-electric compact car headed to Ford dealers in 19 select markets, including Boston, next year. The American automaker claims its newest model will be the first five-passenger, all-electric vehicle to achieve a miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) of more than 100.
Ford is the first of the Big Three domestic automakers to sell an all-electric car, and it has gone to great lengths to improve on the inherent weaknesses of plug-in vehicles, particularly when it comes to charging times. It claims the Ford Focus Electric can charge twice as fast as the Nissan Leaf when connected to a 240-volt outlet, which means a full charge takes about 3.5 hours instead of seven.
"Convenience is a big problem for most electric cars, because Americans like the flexibility of just filling up the gas tank and going rather than having to plug in for an entire night," said Peter King, general manager of Watertown Ford, a Massachusetts Ford dealer. "Ford has done a great job of substantially shortening charge times, which will make the Focus Electric much easier to maintain on a day-to-day basis. That's a huge step toward widespread acceptance of the electric car."
Ford's Focus Electric won't be the only vehicle with a lithium-ion battery rolling out of the automaker's Michigan Assembly Plant for long. The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, a pair of fuel-sipping, gas-electric vehicles, are scheduled to reach Ford dealerships in the latter half of 2012.
The C-MAX Hybrid will be a direct competitor of the Prius v wagon, providing similar versatility with even greater fuel efficiency, according to Ford. With similarly high expectations for the C-MAX Energi, Ford claims the plug-in hybrid will have a greater range than the Chevy Volt, with 500 miles between fill-ups, while returning better fuel economy than Toyota's Prius Plug-in.
Both the C-MAX Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi will alternate their power use between a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine and an electric motor, depending on the needs of the driver. Thanks to Ford's innovations in electric-transmission technology, the C-MAX vehicles will be capable of using their electric motor at higher speeds and will use optimized gear ratios to improve fuel economy.
"Ford knows that drivers have fuel efficiency in the back of their minds at all times, even when gas prices are steady," added King. "The introduction of the Focus Electric and C-MAX Hybrid and Energi will provide even more choices for Massachusetts Ford fans looking to save gas or avoid the fuel pump entirely."