The new Ford Focus Electric is the first “pure” full electric car in the company’s long history, and it’s terrific. It’s super green, drives like a real car, has great performance, and delivers the equivalent of over 100 miles per gallon – but its range is somewhat limited, so don’t plan on driving too far on one charge.
By Matt Stone
The Big Picture
Remember the bumper sticker saying “Real Women Don’t Pump Gas?” Well, in this day and age, yes they do, unless you want to pay the usurious premium most gas stations charge for full serve fillups. Gas is expensive, and everyone wants the U.S. to get off foreign oil, and protect the environment. So carmakers are working double-time to come up with green-friendly alternatives, which include electric cars, gas/electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, so called “clean diesel” and fuel made from farm-grown grasses and even hydrogen. No one solution has yet to prove it’s the “Silver Bullet answer” to these complex energy scenarios. But the rechargeable pure battery electric is winning friends around the world, and carmakers are rolling them out to the marketplace in ever increasing numbers.
An Inside Job
The 2013 Ford Focus Electric is offered in but one bodystyle, that being a compact sized four-door hatchback. The cabin is very similar to that of a conventionally fueled Focus, that is to say generally roomy and nicely appointed. The gauges and instrumentation are slightly different to accommodate the differences in the powertrain – the standard fuel gauge is replaced with readouts to monitor the state of the battery charge, for instance.
Ecologically minded drivers will be happy to know that the dozens of clear plastic water bottles that might have ordinarily ended up littering the sidewalk or in a landfill, have been recycled for use in the Ford Focus Electric’s seat upholstery. More recycled materials employed used for insulation and sound deadening materials. Recycled tires are used to make up some of the rubber gaskets underhood.
Many of the interior’s hard plastic panels are soy based. Driver and the front seat passenger have plenty of room in all directions. It’s a little less commodious in back, but still adequate for adults, not just kids. Flip the rear seatback flat and the cargo area is downright commodious. And there are plenty of storage binnacles and cupholders for everyone. Ambient interior lighting and heated seats are standard too.
Absolutely. Everyone gets their own door, and while you won’t find the legroom of a limo inside, it’s absolutely enough for the average family or a couple couples. The large rear hatch makes cargo loading easy, and with the rear seat folded flat, there might be enough room inside to have you reconsidering that huge, fuel-thirsty SUV.
The 2013 Ford Focus Electric is as safe as any car out there with eight airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, child safety rear locks, and standard anti-theft and tire pressure monitoring systems. Also standard are LATCH safety seat tethers, and bright, strong, high intensity gas discharge headlights, similar to those found on many premium luxury and exotic cars. And don’t worry about the safety of the electric battery packs either; they are well positioned and protected within the car, and are not of the old, potentially explosive lead acid types either. Today’s EV batteries are much more like those than power your laptop.
Gizmos And Tech
There are no optional audio and tech systems; Ford includes it all standard. The audio system is provided by Sony, with 9 speakers and plenty power for clean clear sound. Ford’s Microsoft SYNC and My Ford Touch connectivity systems are standard too, which means full Bluetooth connectivity and hands free operation for the phone and your music. Of course there’s a USB port and AUX jacks to handle all your other devices.
Driving the 2013 Ford Focus Electric couldn’t be easier. Just press the “on” button which “starts” the car, put the shifter in drive, and hit the throttle (remember its no longer a “gas pedal”). The electric drivetrain emits a smooth, high tech sounding whir, and you’re away. You’ll never feel like you need a push up the on ramp, as this thing is zippy, if not downright quick; one of the best performing EVs on the market. It’ll keep up with any freeway traffic flow right up to its potentially ticket-earning top speed of 84 MPH.
The 2013 Ford Focus Electric is responsive, too, allowing you to zip past the pokey puppies. And you never have to worry about the lack of a gas engine to run the power steering, brakes or air conditioning, since they are all electric too, and operate normally when you come to a stop. Otherwise, the Focus Electric drives like any other Focus, which is to say very well. It corners, handles, stops and turns like any modern premium compact car. And of course it’s quiet too; not only because it has no revving gas engine, but there’s very little road or windnoise either.
The biggest downer of the Ford Focus Electric is what haunts every EV: range. Ford quotes a 76-mile range on a full charge; this may vary up or down a bit depending upon road conditions, exterior temperatures and your driving style. This distance range limitation may or may not suit your driving lifestyle or commuting cycle; it’s an ideal hyper green commuter car if you have a relatively fixed route and distance to travel each day. But it’s just not a practical car for road trips; unless you have a really long extension cord handy – kidding. Really.
This is a superb automobile if you can live and drive within its range limitations. Real Women Don’t Have to Pump gas!
Monster green fuel economy at minimum cost, plus zero emissions, and it doesn’t burn oil we buy from other countries.
Great performance and it drives like a real car; you’ll never feel like your piloting someone’s science experiment.
Range Anxiety – “what do you mean I can’t drive from LA to Vegas?”