Car Tech Video: Take a ride in the 2012 Ford Focus Electric
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Car Tech Video: Take a ride in the 2012 Ford Focus Electric

3:31 /

CNET's Brian Cooley gets his hands on the 2012 Ford Focus Electric and puts it to the test on the streets of San Francisco.

Ford is about to do battle with the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt joining the ranks of main stream car makers that have an EV but they're not gonna do it with a new model. They're putting batteries and an electric motor in the existing Focus. Let's drive it and check the tech. We've got a separate video that looks in to the underline technology in this electric Focus but in a nutshell, its got a 75 mile range about the same as the Leaf like all EVs that will vary by terrain, weather, accessory use and your (lead footedness?). But more interesting is the advance charger Ford has installed that they say can do a full charge on the battery in 3 hours or so when plugged in to a 240 volts or level 2 charging station either in public or the one Ford selling for about $1,500 installed for your home. That's about half the charging time for a Nissan Leaf or other similar EVs and can make for really use full top ups as well but none of that matters if it doesn't drive well. Okay. I have not driven a Ford Focus Electric prior to this very moment so you're gonna get my unfiltered impressions. And we're here at downtown San Francisco location so I'm gonna start off giving you some urban stop and go impressions. Now Ford has thrown up the Nissan Leaf as the bench mark for this car and as you may recall I thought the Nissan Leaf drove like a very nice car, a very mid-class car. Nicer than you would think in a (Conobox?) should. The Focus so far has a very similar bolted down feel to. It gone over some crappy pavement here and it doesn't feel like any parts are falling off. So far that nasty gear one that I hate is not showing up anywhere either on acceleration, deceleration, or regen breaking. That's good. This car does feel heavier. Just intuitively you can tell It's got a big old belly, a heavy battery so yes. It's gonna have a little more planted thing. I feel a little bit of a spring in the ride but can't tell if I don't do them head to head. There are couple of different gauges on this car you won't find in any other Ford. There's one where you can add butterflies which is kinda like growing leaves in another Ford Dash we've seen. It's a way of telling you you're neither accelerating too hard nor breaking too hard. Gentle acceleration is as important as gentle breaking. That's the way to drive a car if you wanna really get the most mileage out of it, any kind of car. Inside the cabin has Ford mentioned, they don't sell these things as stripped vehicles. They've all got the high quality audio system, the Sony branding right here. You see this car got the recycled water bottle interior. That's what this fabric is made from. You can also get a leather. I would go for this stuff. It's got a nice feel to it. The other gauge I mentioned is this sort of a scoring thing that also really gets in to the dynamics of accelerating and breaking gently. That's a new concept for most drivers and this is one of the few cars I've seen that has a display to coach you in to doing that. I just turned on the HVAC system which wasn't gone before. Although these little things can take away from an electric vehicles range. You gotta bare that in mind. When you're running the heater in this car, it's not powered by hot cool and off the engine because there isn't any. You gotta run that with some battery power just about every subsystem does. So in some, I wanna wait for a final production car to judge the driving quality and also how the battery holds the charge in my real world use and then I wanna see how the public warms to an EV based on an existing model. Will they view that as comforting or just some sort of odd hack?

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