Test drive: Ford Focus Electric


April 26, 2012

Ford Focus Electric in New York's Chelsea neighborhood

Ford Focus Electric in New York's Chelsea neighborhood

Image Gallery (52 images)

Recently in New York City, Ford invited a handful of journalists to take a brand new Ford Focus Electric for a spin around the west side of Manhattan. But before we got behind the wheel, Eric Kuehn, Chief Nameplate Engineer for the Focus Electric gave us the low-down on what's new in this EV.

Kuehn made it pretty clear that Ford is looking to compete more aggressively with the Nissan Leaf with this iteration, which the automaker claims can go from no juice to fully charged in half the time (around 4 hours) - using of Ford's 240-volt charging station that costs an additional US$1,500 - while also getting a better single-charge range of about 76 miles (122 km).

At the core of the electric Focus, is a pair of 600 pound (272 kg) liquid-cooled lithium-ion 23 kilowatt hour batteries. Fortunately, there's an app for managing them.

MyFord Mobile features prominently in Ford's pitch for its electric vehicle with an app to help plan trips, manage charging and locate charging stations along the way. Another cool new digital bonus is a feature Ford calls "butterflies," a fun little gimmick that pops up butterflies on the dashboard display to indicate surplus range is available.

Kuehn explained that learning to brake early and easily and taking advantage of the Focus Electric's regenerative braking is the best way to boost your butterfly count. It's a technique that takes a little getting used to, as you'll see in the video of my test drive below.

When I did get behind the wheel, it was a little shocking how much the Focus Electric drives like a regular Focus. The suspension was a little tight, probably something to do with all the extra weight in those batteries, and it's not the roomiest compact around, but it sure had more pickup than other electric vehicles.

Is it worth the US$39,200 sticker price, though? See if my video test drive helps you decide if it's worth testing out yourself.

About the Author
Eric Mack Eric Mack has been covering technology and the world since the late 1990s. As well as being a Gizmag regular, he currently contributes to CNET, NPR and other outlets. All articles by Eric Mack

$2ok can buy a lot of gas

Mark A

Even with cumulative savings for folks like my wife and me - who usually keep a vehicle 10 years or more - we can't afford the upfront cost of the Ford Focus EV.

A shame because it's exactly what we'd like, what we need for our daily drive.


The article's interesting but skip the video. Speeded up video of travel around New York with more time stationary than moving really adds nothing to the reader's appreciation.


For $39K, I'd rather have a Jetta TDI diesel for the long haul trips and a Brammo electric motorcycle for around town.


Not sure about the electric thing but I am sure that new direction Ford is taking with their design is terrible. Them copying Aston Martin is so lame!

We saw it first with the new Mondeo and now with this Focus, even the colour is more Aston Martin than Ford and it fools no one. Potential Ford customers won't think they're getting an Aston and the Aston buyers will see this as hurting the Aston Martin brand - just imagine parking you're DBS and then someone parks a Focus next to it with a front mimicking your Aston!


Curious their claim is twice as fast as a LEAF. Nissan clearly state the longer time on the regular 110V in USA. With the 220V via an optional charger. Here in Oz the 240V is the standard so Nissan recharges well enough. Then, Nissan have their fast charge of 80% within 25mins. The electric is great for the second car. In my case it is possible to do 95% of my demands, with the 5% only for country trips. The price is a worry, early adopters usually pay. A DIY, 4 year old, Focus will set you back $30k for similar range, so, when mass production gets there it will lower the price. Good competition but Ford have been late starters. pity.


BZD, in most of America, the only Aston Martin anybody has seen is in the James Bond films. They have never and will never see one in person, and if they did, they would think it was imitating the Focus, if they had any idea what it was. The problem you describe is only a problem in areas where some people have more money than they know what to do with. Go nurse your hurt feelings with a shaken not stirred martini, then get over it.


@Grainpaw: Point taken only the world is bigger than America.

Also with the copy crap Chinese automakers are pulling all the time then I think it's stupid that Ford now does the same and, sort off, says it's okay to copy (and I do know Ford owns 12% of Aston Martin).


39,200 !!! Besides all the costs of the car and the battery, I suspect the final price is too high due to the very high net earnings placed for EV´s, again due to the small quantity of EV cars finally sold. Think that between these small quantity of EV´s being bought the company has to pay not only for the construction of the car but for the construction of a whole new kind of car and all the new science that comes with it. What will bring the price down ??? New, less expensive batteries and more people buying EV´s. What will make more people buy EV´s ??? getting away from the "range anxiety" by realizing what they REALLY drive and how long every day. Its incredible people pick a regular gas, high mileage range car just because they make this high mileage range journeys just twice a year. Come on people don´t be so lazy !!! People are so scare of planing their trips, check on their mileage range, check where they can recharge and adjust they driving to it. Many people are also afraid of just forgetting charging their electrics cars at night and not being able to drive at the next day. All this things are made of laziness, irresponsibility and wanting to have a completely worry free car that they just to put their feet on the gas pedal and roll. They have to check all the advantages of an electric car, GET ONE and stop being, afraid of the disadvantages but just start being responsible with their lives, their routines, the environment and our future. Ok it cost way more, it come with more responsibilities, but all in all EV´s are great cars.

Eduardo RG

There is a lot of misinformation and old thinking displayed in this article and comments. A Nissan Leaf takes about 8 hours to charge because it has a 3.3kW charger (16A @ 220V). The Focus has a 6.57kW charger (32A @ 220V) and can therefore charge twice as fast as the Leaf. These chargers are built-in to the cars. Nissan has announced that the 2013 Leaf will get a higher wattage charger to remedy this difference. As a Leaf owner, I know first hand that charging time is a BIG DEAL. Also, Ford actively controls the battery temperature, which allows them to get more range out of them as they're always operating at optimum temperature.

The high price here in the US is offset by many early-adopter incentives. You can knock $10-$12.5k off the price of that car here in California right away ($7.5-$10k in other states), and you get to use carpool lanes as a solo driver (this is also a BIG DEAL). Also, one can get a 220V home charger and installation at no cost via programs aimed at promoting EV adoption.


There was a recent article in the NY Times that discussed the cost vs value of the new fleet of hybrid and EV cars hitting the market. The article states quite clearly that unless gas prices go over $12 USD per gallon or unless you drive the car for 10 years these cars simply aren't worth the significant extra cost... the car will be dead or worthless before you ever recoup those extra thousands you spent to buy it. It is far more cost effective to buy a 'normal' car that is reasonably fuel efficient and drive it conservatively.

That having been said, the argument that I would make FOR the EV car is that it is a tool with which to free our nation(s) from the iron grip of the oil companies. Even though an EV car does not make economic sense to the individual's wallet, when you add up the gallons of petrol/gasoline not used by EVs and multiply those numbers across an entire country, it makes a HUGE case for why these cars should be mass produced. I am sick and tired of being held hostage to the whims of the oil barons. I would pay a little more for a decent EV just so I could give them the middle finger. And if enough people drove EVs then the oil companies would lose their leverage over us.

Tony Morrill

Have to agree with Tony. Hopefully with technology improvements and lower cost of the batteries will fall. If the electric is produced by coal,isn't a step backwards?

When the vehicle is 8-10 years old,does battery replacement cost more than the car is worth?


When I can charge my EV at home with solar panels in less than an hour (80%) and not have to replace my battery for 100,000 miles, I will buy one priced under $30K. I would forgo the one hour charge if I could get 400 mile range. I demand the range of an ICE or a quick charge, preferably both. If I got both I would pay $40K. (Assuming long battery life.)

These are my minimum requirements. An EV would still not make sense if I did not put a high priority on independence. I want to be free from the grid and oil. I expect gas to be very cheap soon, after going up much higher first. When it reaches around $10/gallon the oil companies will be able to get a sweetheart deal (monopoly) by promising low prices. After a while, 10-15 years, they will slowly begin to raise prices. It's an old trick made possible by government. The only way to stop it is to stop government by abolishing it.


I'm currently test driving the Mitsubishi i and I can say that $21,650, plus more if you live in California will get you 100 miles with a super zippy car that turns on a dime and is roomy enough for 4. Price might be an issue but we vote with our wallets. I love the Focus, it drives and handles very well, pretty much on par with the Leaf, but as far as I can see, best bang for your bucks can't be beaten by a Mitsubishi i.

Nicolas Zart

The $39,500 is a bit of a price gouge. Knowing that the factory is mostly robotics, using a solar PV assisted power plant, are they trying to recover all of their up-front costs at once? The solar power alone should mean a lower priced car. Not paying any benefits (pension, health, holidays) for labor - all the robotics (which can work 24/7 with 0 overtime), should have lowered the cost even further. Hopefully a foreign company, with the present economy and the consumer in mind will duplicate this process, but use volume sales to dramatically lower vehicle costs. Partnering up with a solar PV rooftop or canopy installer for a package deal would help too.


I want to see a Ford sports car ,not necessarily another gt40, which is a nostalgic design. I hate these cheesy vehicles (my personal opinion) like festiva and focus. Mustang would be better if it wasn't a land yacht, well smaller than camaro, but still. Add all the cool sync software and hybrid tech after you get an awesome design.


It's hard for me to believe that people can know so little about EV's and yet post comments that are just plain uninformed. I've built an EV, and then bought a Leaf last year when they first came out. I have several cars including a Lotus and a Corvette, but my favorite car is the Leaf. Why, because it is almost free to drive ($1.50 of electricity for 80 miles, or about 150 miles per gallon equivalent @ $4/gallon), and it is virtually maintenance free. Electricity is very cheap compare to gasoline and it's clean, plus I'm not a fan of Big Oil. With EV's you don't have to change oil, replace filters, belts, brakes, etc. You go into the Nissan dealer once a year for a free battery check.

As for the purchase price, I paid $32K, but you get a $7,500 tax credit from Uncle Sam, but in WA, you don't pat sales tax (about $3K), so I netted out at $22K. I figure I save $250/month on fuel and no maintenance.

Also, it's got more acceleration than most gas cars.

No Bull

Aston Martin was part of the Ford Motor Company from 1994 until 2007. Someone needs to make an EV at an affordable price that gets way better mileage for long distance trips or a way to recharge as it's driven...

Sherry Friedrichs
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