How fast is it?

We all know electric cars feel quite zippy due to the instant torque available (due to a couple of reasons: synchronous A/C motors have almost all their torque available at any time, and since all the control systems are electronic any changes in the accelerator pedal are instantly transmitted to the motor). But really how zippy?

This morning I happened to be the first at a stop light when a Focus ST pulled up to my right. About a mile down the road the two lanes merge into one (I frequently notice people racing off this light in the morning to be the first down the lane). Normally I don’t race anyone–that kind of defeats the purpose of driving a very efficient car. However, it was easy to see that the ST driver was intent on being first. It didn’t quite turn out that way though! Frankly I was a bit surprised that my FFE could keep up. My suspicion is that the driver of the ST did not anticipate that the FFE would zip like that.

Anecdotes aside, lets take a look at some 0-60 numbers (2013 model year):

  • Focus ST 5.9 seconds
  • Focus 7.6 seconds
  • Focus Electric 9.6 seconds

We can see that the FFE is the slowest in the Focus stable by a full two seconds. It certainly doesn’t feel that way (most likely due to the instantness of it). Granted the FFE, and most electric cars today, isn’t designed to be fast; its designed to be efficient and thus compromises are made so that it can “burn” as few electrons as possible.

The interesting thing is, though, since the entire driving experience is dictated by the software in the car I would suspect that all it would take to shave a second or more off the 0-60 times is a new powertrain computer calibration. Of course there will be a top end to the amount of current that could be pumped through the motor controller, wiring, and winding’s in the motor.


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