Ford Motor Co. showed off its 2012 Focus Electric to a large and enthusiastic crowd Friday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Focus Electric is clearly a big deal for Ford — at least it must be, given the smooch CEO Alan Mulally laid on its hood after it was driven onto the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton.
And perhaps the biggest deal to owners is the fact that the Focus Electric will completely recharge to its full 100-mile range in just three hours on 240-volt current — twice as fast as the competition (which for now is limited to the Nissan Leaf).
The automaker also demonstrated how its Sync and MyFordTouch technologies will make the Focus Electric easier to own and operate, handling everything from charging the vehicle at the least expensive times to planning trips to coaching the driver on wringing the most mileage out of each electron.
“This is the first of a family of electric vehicles from Ford,” Mulally pointed out. “We’re not only electrifying this vehicle, we’re electrifying this company.”
Ford officials said the Focus EV is part of an overall carbon footprint reduction “glide path” for the automaker that includes more efficient internal combustion engines, hybrids, weight reduction and better aerodynamics as well as EVs. They said Ford’s EcoBoost engines, smaller turbocharged engines, offer 20 percent better mileage and 15 percent CO2 reducation vs. their current counterparts.
“There is no silver bullet, no single approach to electrifcation that will dominate,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for global product development. “We will pursue all three — electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids — providing choice and affordability.”
Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering, offered details on the Focus EV’s liquid-cooled, 23-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack that will also be recharged by regenerative braking. He said improved aerodynamics, lightweight aerodynamic wheels, LED lamps and low rolling resistance tires would also make the most out of the batteries’ power.
And he said the vehicle is green overall, with seats made from 100 percent recycled materials and sound insulation made from recycled blue jeans.
Amy Garby, manager of electric vehicle electronics, demonstrated how the Focus Electric’s instrument panel will coach drivers to use the vehicle more efficiently.
And Ed Pleet, manager of product development for connected services, showed off My Ford Mobile, a smartphone app that will tell the Focus Electric owner where the car is, what its current charge level is, whether it’s charging, and when it’s scheduled to be fully charged again.
“I can even plug in at the mall and have my car text me when it’s ready to go,” Pleet said. “How cool is that?”
The feature also allows the owner to program the vehicle to use electricity from the grid to heat or cool the battery and cabin while plugged in – called preconditioning. For example, during hot summer months, owners can preprogram the car the evening before to be fully charged – and fully cooled to a particular temperature – by a certain time the following morning.
The app offers the Focus Electric owner analysis of driving style on a scale from “zippy” to “zen,” and offers information on CO2 and gas money saved.
And it offers the locations of nearby charging stations, and information on “value charging,” arranging for charging when rates are cheapest.
Mike Tinsley, manager of global electrification infrastructure, said the automaker is working with utilities ot maximize the use of the grid for recharging at night, and to develop special rate programs for EV nighttime recharging.
He said that while there are only 1,800 EV charging stations in the U.S. now, concentrated in California, 12,000 more are planned within the next 18 months.
Ford also demonstrated its home charging station — a 10-second installation into any 240-volt outlet. It will be sold, serviced and installed exclusively by Best Buy and its Geek Squad installation and service unit.
The Focus Electric will launch in late 2011.
The five-door hatchback shares Ford’s global C-car platform with the gasoline and diesel-powered Focus models, which debuted at the 2010 North American International Auto Show and were launched at the Paris Motor Show in September.
Both Focus gasoline and electric variants to be sold in North America will be built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, with production powered in part by one of the largest solar energy generator systems in the state.
Focus Electric is one of five new electrified vehicles included in Ford’s electrification strategy. Initial deliveries of Transit Connect Electric began in North America at the end of last year and the vehicle will be launched in Europe later in 2011.
Focus Electric offers a host of standard safety and security features including six airbags and electronic traction control. Other standard features on Ford Focus Electric for North American customers include 15-spoke 17-inch aluminum wheels, a 60/40 split rear bench seat, push button start, AM/FM/CD/MP3 Sony Audio with nine speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio with Travel Link, HD Radio and a voice-activated navigation system.
At CES, Ford also announced an upgrade to its Sync software, adding CDMA USB broadband modem compatibility for Wi-Fi hot spot capability, allowing the Verizon and Sprint networks to be used, not just GSM networks.
Other upgrades include easier access to sports coverage, movie listings and traffic alerts and Valet Mode to pass code protect the system.
Ford also launched a new Web site, www.syncmyride.com/own/touch, giving users access to new videos and tutorials on more than 65 features as well as social sharing capabilities through Facebook and Twitter.