Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The 220-volt home-charging stations that make electric-car ownership a lot easier—and possible, for heavy commuters—are admittedly more like home appliances than traditional auto accessories.
But it's still a bit surprising that Ford [NYSE: F] has chosen Best Buy, rather than its dealerships, to supervise deployment and installation of home charging stations for the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, which was officially revealed in production form today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
In a move that makes sense but might keep customers from seeking help from the Ford dealership as much as they otherwise might, Best Buy is also handling warranty and repair for the charging station. Focus Electric owners will be able to purchase the stations through 1,200 Best Buy stores across the U.S. or through the Best Buy website, then the retailer's Geek Squad service and support crew will schedule an electrical audit and professional installation.
Unlike the charging station for the 2011 Nissan Leaf, the Ford charging station won't be a permanent home installation; it plugs into a 240-volt drier-style outlet and can be removed when needed—such as when the owner moves.
Ford has said that with the 240-volt, charging system, permitting the system's 32-amp maximum capability, the Focus Electric will charge fully in as little as three to four hours—about half the time of the Nissan Leaf. That comes thanks to the 6.6-kW on-board charger.
The price for the home charger, at $1,499 with a standard installation, is also substantially less than that of the Nissan Leaf.
When the connector is plugged into the Focus Electric's charge port, a light ring illuminates to show a proper connection, then the ring lights up in quadrants to show the approximate stage of charge completion.
The Focus Electric, which goes on sale late this calendar year, will offer enough range to satisfy the needs of most driving Americans, Ford says, and is emphasizing the driving experience more than Nissan has with the Leaf. Top speed for the Focus Electric, in final specs revealed at CES, is 84 mph.
This isn't the first time Best Buy's name has been mentioned at CES. GM's OnStar just announced the other day that its hardware would be available for purchase for non-GM vehicles at the electronics retailer's stores.
Posted by Pw3680 at 11:02 AM
Hot hatches, how we love thee. Punchy, pint-sized, yet utilitarian and able to fly (just) under the radar, these do-it-all wonders never cease to please. The 2012 Ford Focus ST is no exception, and this video even treats us to a bit of turbo spool action.
As B-roll footage, it's not particularly exciting, but it does give us yet another look at the car, and this time it's actually moving.
Posted by Pw3680 at 10:01 AM
Ford’s Volt and Leaf rival has been revealed, making its world debut last week at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and then reappearing again this week at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. We are, of course, talking about the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the Blue Oval’s first mass-produced electric car and possibly the pick of the bunch out of the Ford-GM-Nissan trio.
Below is a video of the new model’s unveiling in Detroit this week, with Ford’s product chief Derrick Kuzak and chairman Bill Ford touting all of its benefits.
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:59 AM
Ford Focus EV
Plug-in electric cars are the next frontier for green car buyers. Hybrids like the 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Honda Insight will duke it out this year, but you can't charge them up from wall current.
GM has been promoting its plans for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in car with an auxiliary engine, for more than two years. In January, Ford startled the Detroit Auto Show by saying it would offer a fully electric Focus in 2011.
Now we've had a chance to drive a development version of that car, which is engineered by supplier Magna, which will also build several thousand copies of the car to be sold at Ford dealers.
We were particularly impressed with the refinement and lack of noise. Most development vehicles haven't been tweaked by noise-vibration-harshness (NVH) engineers, so they squeak, roar, whine, clunk, or howl. The Focus EV may be the most exemplary mule we've driven.
Ford Focus EV - the power electronics sit above the electric motor
Electric cars generate their highest torque from 0 rpm, and the Focus's motor was able to spin the inside front wheel when accelerating hard around a corner. The brakes were nicely integrated, with no noticeable transition between regenerative braking and the friction brakes.
The Bottom Line:
For a development 'mule', this thing feels like it could have rolled off a production line. We couldn't take the car out on freeways, but the car felt showroom-ready in low-speed testing around the roads and parking lots of DisneyWorld (top speed: 30 mph).
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:54 AM
Ford was clearly one of the stars of last week's Detroit Auto Show, launching green vehicles and concepts across a wide range of fuel-saving technologies.
The company unveiled just a single concept, the Vertrek crossover, but it's an important one. The production version of the Vertrek will be the replacement for both the Escape crossover in the U.S. and the similarly-sized Kuga crossover in Europe.
We don't yet know if it'll keep the Escape name for the U.S., shift to a new name--Vertrek, perhaps?--or even convert over to the European Kuga label. Regardless, this is the hybrid crossover that Ford will offer, along with a raft of other non-hybrid fuel-saving technologies.
Partying like 1999, no more
The 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid is the last year of a model whose basic design dates back more than a decade to the launch of the original 1999 Ford Escape. The hybrid model, added in October 2004, was both the first hybrid sport utility and the first U.S.-built hybrid of any kind.
2009 Ford Escape Hybrid
Now we know what the 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid will look like: Imagine a Vertrek with slightly smaller wheels, and with door handles added.
Add or subtract a few of the flashier trim elements and design cues, and there you have it: a fully modern Escape, with the company's MyFord Touch audio control system and all the electronic goodies you could want.
The new crossover sports a raked-back windshield and carefully shaped body surfaces, both to lessen aerodynamic drag. The trapezoidal lower front grille offers a family connection to the 2012 Ford Focus compact.
2011 Ford Vertrek Concept
Ford calls this its 'kinetic design' theme, and it will be used across most of Ford's lineup of global vehicles. Following the Fiesta and Focus, the first two cars Ford adapted from their European roots to sell in the States, the Vertrek will be the third truly global design to be built and sold all over the world.
The swoopy design resembles the current Kuga far more than than the upright and slab-sided Escape. But the dimensions of the Vertrek are much closer--especially in the all-important wheelbase--to today's Escape, meaning it should have more legroom and interior volume than the slightly smaller Kuga.
The Vertrek show car shows off a panoramic glass roof, which--in light of stringent new rollover roof-strength requirements--may give way to more conventional rectangular moonroof panels.
2009 Ford Kuga
There's also a power bulge on the hood, which on the concept car is meant to highlight Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
That will be one of two engines offered, and may replace the optional 3.0-liter V-6 offered today. The other engine is likely to be an evolution of the current Escape's 2.5-liter four.
One or both of the gasoline engines may be offered with the engine start-stop technology Ford has said it will offer on various vehicles to eliminate gasoline wasted in idling at stop lights.
Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine
Best MPGs of all
But the hybrid is likely to offer the best fuel economy of all. Today's 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid is EPA-rated at 34 mpg city, 31 mpg highway in front-wheel-drive form (30 mpg city, 27 mpg highway fitted with all-wheel-drive).
If Ford stands by its promise to offer 'best-in-class' fuel economy on every new vehicle it sells, those numbers are likely to rise for the new-generation hybrid.
Among other changes, the Escape/Vertrek Hybrid will switch to a lithium-ion battery pack from today's nickel-metal-hydride technology, which holds less energy per pound.
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:39 AM