Ford Motor Company has begun a ‘new chapter’ in its vehicle manufacturing history with the start of production of the all-new Ford Focus Electric – the first full-electric vehicle to be built by Ford in Europe.
The zero-emission Focus Electric is spearheading Ford's line-up of electrified and ‘highly fuel-efficient vehicles’. It will be joined in Europe by the Ford C‑MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle next year, followed by the all-new Ford Mondeo Hybrid soon after.
Developed as a "One Ford" global vehicle, the Focus Electric is said to feature an advanced electric motor and lithium-ion battery powertrain that produces 145PS and achieves a top speed of 84 mile/h.
Each vehicle is equipped with a 6.6kW fully integrated on-board charger that can achieve a driving range of around 60 miles with two to three hours charging from a 32 A power supply. A full charge of the Focus Electric battery in 3-4 hours will deliver a 100-mile range.
Barb Samardzich (above), product development vice president, Ford of Europe, said: "Focus Electric marks the dawn of an exciting new age of full-electric Ford passenger vehicles in Europe, and demonstrates the success of the One Ford strategy in making this sophisticated vehicle available to our European customers."
The Ford Focus Electric features a new user interface called SmartGauge which calculates and displays driving range based on remaining energy; the driver's unique braking and acceleration inputs; and the use of accessories such as climate control and audio systems.
The Focus Electric's sophisticated powertrain uses regenerative braking to capture up to 95 per cent of kinetic energy normally lost during the braking process, while the innovative Brake Coach feature encourages gradual braking to help return more energy to the battery.
Ford has integrated Focus Electric production directly into the established Ford Focus production line at Saarlouis, in Germany, with units reaching customers from July this year.
The subject of electric cars and their ‘true emissions’ remains a subject of debate. In February 2011, the consumer organisation Which? Noted that while electric cars may portray themselves as 'zero emissions' the overall pollution they generate can be almost as great as a frugal conventional diesel car.
“Electric cars are a lot more expensive to buy - though they are generally cheaper to run as they plug in for their power from the domestic mains,” said experts at Which?
The amount of carbon dioxide - the so-called 'greenhouse gas' blamed by scientists for global warming - created to generate the electricity powering an electric car, can be just as great as that created by the internal combustion engine, they noted.
Two years ago, the Royal Academy of Engineering declared that to convert the countries fleet of 30 million vehicles would increase current demand by 16 per cent or an extra 10 gigawatts of power.
With the 70 GW grid currently running at near full capacity that would mean building the equivalent of six large nuclear power stations or 2,000 wind turbines to meet demand.
It would also mean that it will have to be controlled by a "smart grid" of thousands of charging points in order to deal with increase and wild fluctuations in demand.
The findings came from the academy's then latest report titled Electric Vehicles: charged with potential which outlined what needs to be done if cars in the UK are to go ‘green’.
The organisation said that in order to reduce our carbon footprint then the sources for the National Grid will have to change to sustainable supplies.
Clearly, there needs to be a sensible debate on the subject. Meanwhile the latest venture at Saarlouis might seem to be an example of Ford putting a further stake in the electric vehicle ground to demonstrate it is making an effort. But by far the bulk of Ford's next five-year investment will be in high-volume gasoline and diesel engines - the company's bread and butter products. ∎
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