New Ford Focus Electric Keeps Its Cool When the Temperature Heats Up

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The Ford Focus Electric. (Ford Motor Co. photo.)

The Ford Focus Electric. (Ford Motor Co. photo.)

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When the mercury starts to rise, people have all sorts of ways for cooling themselves down: sprinklers, lemonade and ice cream all come to mind. But the engineers at Ford have developed a system that cools the lithium-ion battery in the all-new Focus Electric and keeps it working at its prime, even in the hottest of conditions.

Extreme temperatures can affect an electric vehicle’s battery performance and reduce its range. That’s why Ford will use an advanced active liquid-cooling and heating system to regulate the temperature of its lithium-ion battery packs, which are designed to operate under a range of ambient conditions.

“If the battery became too hot, we would have to limit the use of energy to protect it,” said Dave Fabricatore, thermal program management team engineer. “The liquid cooled system allows us to reduce those constraints and get the most out of the battery. We’re helping owners by making sure their battery is always ready to go regardless of the weather.”

The vehicle uses an integrated cooling system to keep the different systems in the vehicle at their optimal operating temperatures. The air conditioning system is actually used to refrigerate the coolant going to the battery using a “chiller,” so as the coolant passes through the chiller, it’s brought down to the temperature that the battery requires. Temperature sensors placed all over the vehicle let the cooling system know when it needs to kick into action.

The cooling system can even work when the car is charging, so it can help reduce the charge time in hot climates because the battery will be kept at a desirable temperature.

“Batteries can heat up when they’re charging or being used, and it’s made worse by ambient temperatures,” said Fabricatore. “Controlling the temperature lets us deliver the best range and power for the customer, while improving the longevity of the battery.”

Focus Electric will launch in late 2011 in 19 pilot markets. The liquid cooled battery system will serve as another distinct advantage the Focus Electric will have over other air-cooled all-electric vehicles, especially in the warmer initial launch markets. These warmer weather pilot markets include: Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Richmond, Va.

Ford plans to launch five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will launch the all-new Focus Electric later this year. In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-Max Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. This diverse range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.

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