The Focus has been one of the best selling cars in Britain every month since it was launched. It is commendable therefore that Ford has decided that its first electric offering should be as mass market-friendly as possible. However unlike its main rivals it also means that the Focus is a conventional car with an electric system shoehorned in, so has Ford missed a trick by not coming up with a dedicated electric platform?
The first thing to say about the electric Focus is that it has been designed from the outset to look and feel like its conventionally powered siblings. This is very good news if you like the standard car and slightly underwhelming if you were hoping that the electric drive would be accompanied by a futuristic feel. The batteries do add some weight but it really does just feel like an eerily quiet Focus.
The battery in question is a 23 kWh liquid cooled lithium ion pack which has been squeezed in over the rear axle. Strangely the Ford system takes a good time longer to charge from a standard socket than equivalently-sized rivals but with the optional 32A charger it is just as fast. The official range is 100 miles which should be good for around 80 in the real world and with 143 bhp available, performance is good.
So far so good, however where Ford’s decision to retro-fit the system really bites is in the purchase price. Yes the Focus is initially only being built to order in very low volume which partly explains the hefty price tag, but unlike key rivals who have the luxury of designing an electric car from a clean sheet of paper, Ford can’t save money from the donor Focus so the cost of the electric kit is fully felt.
The Focus Electric is great if you want to go electric but keep the experience as ‘normal’ as possible. Subjectively and objectively it remains a very good car, but the elephant in the room is the price. The cost of electric cars has come down so quickly recently that whilst the price would have been competitive in 2012 it is now significantly more expensive than direct electric rivals without offering any major advantages.
Official electricity consumption: TBC
Battery pack: 23 kWh liquid cooled lithium ion pack (approx 20 kWh usable capacity)
Recharge time: 240V charge 10-11 hours; 32A optional fast charger 3-4 hours
Please note that CO2 emissions quoted for electric cars are not directly comparable to diesel and petrol cars. This is because CO2 emissions quoted are calculated by Green Car Guide and include the emissions created at the power station turning fuel (e.g. gas etc) into electricity and in transmitting and distributing the electricity to an end user. They do not include the actual production of the fuel (e.g. gas extraction and refinery emissions). Petrol and diesel emissions are supplied by car manufacturers and are based solely on the fuel burnt in the engine (tailpipe emissions) and do not include the production of the fuel or distribution to a fuel station. In practice this means that electric car emissions are over estimated relative to petrol and diesel. For instance if an electric car, a petrol car, and a diesel car are all reported to emit 100 g/km CO2, the electric car actually has lower emissions.