Ford Focus Electric climbs any mountain, slowly

During our review of the Ford Focus Electric, we subjected the car to a variety of tests, including climbing a 25 percent grade from a dead stop.

2012 Ford Focus Electric
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The electric vehicle Ford showed off last year is finally hitting the streets, and CNET spent a week with this EV in Focus clothing. Unlike Nissan building the Leaf from the ground up as an electric car, Ford dropped an electric drive system in its existing Focus model.

Ford gains production line efficiencies in using the Focus, but it also results in some compromises in the car. For example, the hatchback area features a big bump where the battery intrudes. The weight distribution also feels as if it is biased toward the rear, a problem when you have to stuff heavy battery packs into an existing platform.

Still, the Focus Electric accomplishes its goal of efficient electric driving. Ford boasts an EPA number of 110 miles per gallon equivalent, representing a huge efficiency gain over any gasoline-powered car. That number will mean something to owners as they ditch the gas pump and pay a fraction of the cost of their prior fuel bills for electricity.

However, range remains a factor, as it does with most electric cars. At 76 miles on a charge, the Focus Electric will not be suitable for everyone's needs. Ford got its 240-volt Level 2 charging down to 3 hours, which should make a difference for people with a charging station at the office.

Ford includes an impressive amount of cabin tech to support the electric drive system, including giving the car a data connection to communicates its charge state to a central server. Owners can use a smartphone app to schedule charging, see the current charge status, and accomplish other telematics tricks such as remotely unlocking the door.

Check out CNET's review of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric.

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