Monthly Archives: April 2014

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2015 Focus Electric walk around video

Inside EVs has posted an exterior walk around video of the “new” 2015 Focus electric:

I can see some subtle changes in the sheetmetal and I really like the new color. Other than that, though, the 2015 Focus Electric remains a bit disappointing as Ford didn’t change anything else other than make the current car fit in the new Focus body.

 

Quick post: I’m not dead! LOL

Yeah haven’t posted much in a while. Just got back from a spring break vacation in Manhattan. About the only EV related news there is: I noticed quite a few charge stations on the plug share map, most of the cabs are hybrids with quite a few being C-Max hybrids, and I saw exactly one Tesla Model S driving around.

 

Just another weather post….

Just as we appear to be on the cusp of spring…bam! we get another blast of winter weather (this blast of winter gave us just enough snow to make this year the snowiest winter on record).

How would this affect an EV? (If you’ve been reading my blog all along you’ll probably guess! LOL) Yesterday our temperatures were in the 70s F, this morning the low was about 27F. Consequently my power consumption average for yesterday was 211 wH/mile and I was greeted with a 90+ range to empty on the guess-O-meter this morning. Today’s power consumption–at least for the commute in–was as high as 270 wH/mile for the exact same route as yesterday (which translates to a guess-O-meter reading of about 70 miles).

Now that I have almost 12 months of driving the car under my belt I had expected this drop. Its becoming easier and easier to predict what tomorrow’s range will be simply based on the predicted high and low temperatures.

 

A ding magnet?

Before driving either of my Focuses I drove trucks for years. I started with a 1993 Ranger and eventually moved all the way up to a 2008 F-350 monster. When driving trucks you realize that there is no way you’re going to be able to park in any normal spots (granted the Rangers were a bit smaller and easier to maneuver). I quickly got in the habit of parking the trucks way out in parking lots away from other cars. This wasn’t done because it looks cool, or I thought the truck was “special”. It was done simply for ease: Much simpler to park, leave and I wouldn’t damage someone else’s car in the process. In addition walking the extra 50 yards or so was a bit more healthy.

Enter my first ICE Focus in 2011. Since the car is so much smaller than the trucks I found myself now parking much closer and in with all the other cars. I also noticed that the Focus picked up a lot more door dings than any of my trucks ever had. The close proximity to the cars must make them inevitable. Perhaps also people see a that its just a “cheap Focus” and not really pay much attention (not sure about that one, more likely that its simply just a small car).

Nonetheless I’m now also seeing door dings on my FFE. Just noticed a rather glaring one on the rear drivers side door: They must have really slammed their door into it: Three marks all in a vertical line on the folds of the door that stick out the farthest. Wow people are really inconsiderate these days…sigh.

Going to have to start treating the car like a truck and parking way out in no-mans land again.

Ok I’m done ranting! LOL

 

What else can you put in the trunk?

The trunk of the FFE has been much derided for the large “bump” where the battery is. I covered some of the things you can put in the trunk in this posting.

A user on the My Focus Electric forum also posted a video about the kinds of things you can put into the trunk, including lining up some grocery bags in the back area. In fact quite a bit of stuff does fit back there.

Now, say your BBQ is out of propane and you need to go get some more:

Yes a standard 20 lb propane tank easily fits in the trunk with the cargo organizer removed. In fact, you could fit at least three of them in there with some room to spare. Note that the tank is slightly shorter than the cargo cover at the top which means that you have to take it a bit easy on the corners as it will tip over (unless of course you put two more in there to stabilize it).

I’ve found the trunk of the FFE to be pretty useful despite the area taken up by the battery. Lately I’ve been leaving the cargo organizer in with the “flap” in the raised position. This leaves a large flat area with about 12″ of clearance between the floor and the cargo cover (a bucket will fit). It is a useful configuration for hauling around flat stuff like computers, my lunchbox for work, some groceries, etc.

 

The commuter’s consumption..

As with most people who drive to and from work on a daily basis my commute is pretty routine. At this point I can almost tell the outside temperature by the amount of electricity used (Oh no, not another weather post!–well not really bear with me). I’ve also noticed a disparity between the power consumption on my two daily trips: The ride in to work typically uses between 10 and 20 wH/mile more than the trip home.

I’ve always thought this disparity was due to the elevation difference between home (675 ft) and work (900 ft). Climbing 225 ft or descending 225 ft over 15 miles would explain the power consumption difference but I wonder if there is something else that is contributing?

My day starts pretty early when there are few cars on the road in the morning and at the end of the day there is significantly more traffic. This difference may be a factor: In the morning with little traffic I find myself doing the speed limit if not a little bit over–usually I can even get the lights timed perfectly and make most of then. In the evening, on the other hand, there is so much traffic that I’d be lucky if I could maintain a constant 10 mph under the speed limit. This speed difference is significant–you can see the wH/mile change quite a bit for a 10 mph increase in speed (we’re talking from 35 mph to 45 mph here). This would also explain the inconsistency in the values I’ve been seeing: Some days in the afternoon there is less traffic and some days there is more traffic.

Food for thought…

 

A new Focus Electric same as the old Focus Electric

Ahead of the New York Auto Show in about a week, Ford has released new information about the 2015 Focus Electric, including some pictures:

The press release says very little about the new FFE, from that and the pictures I/we can guess:

  • No SAE Fast Charger (the charge port is too small)
  • No range improvements (other than possibly improved software)
  • New color available: Red
  • The same slightly improved MyFordTouch software (I doubt this FFE will get the rumored switch to QNX)
  • Heated Steering Wheel option

That’s about it–kind of disappointing really, but then I wasn’t expecting much from Ford’s half-hearted EV effort (even though, such that it is, it is a great EV!).

Some things I would have liked to see:

  • A little better battery (not much): like 10-20 miles more range, perhaps even hitting 100 miles rated range.
  • A little better battery placement: maybe flatten the battery “hump” so the load floor in the trunk is flat instead of stepped.
  • The SAE Combo Charger included (after all Ford did commit to supporting it)

 

10,000 miles and all is well

On my commute in this morning the odometer clicked over the 10,000 mile mark. I’m still enjoying the car very much: The novelty hasn’t really worn off at all. If it did I would have never attempted to go camping with the car (yeah there is a picture on that post of my two favorite toys: The new motor home and the FFE).

I’d report out some statistics but I don’t have any: Back in November I had the Stop Safely Now (SSN) recall performed which reset all of the lifetime statistics that the car keeps. The statistics that are shown on the myfordmobile website are laughably off. So far I’ve spent about $500 in electricity to cover those 10,000 miles (which works out to about a nickel per mile).

The recall: Before the SSN recall every FFE driver always drove with a little apprehension: When will it happen to me? Will I be driving on the freeway? Attempting to cross an intersection? Will I get hit when the car suddenly stalls? Even if you loved the car there was that SSN in the back of your mind keeping you from fully enjoying the car care-free. Once the recall was announced and everyone got their cars updated the incidences of SSN stopped completely. Now people can enjoy the car as they thought they would; just get in it and go. The cautious driving routines laid by the wayside. No more driving in the right hand lane on the free way. No more scanning the area for escape routes. Just drive.

Overall my experiment seems to be a success–when we leased the FFE we were calling it a 3 year experiment to see if we could live with an EV. I/we have yet to be left stranded with the EV (no more or less than we have been stranded with any of our ICE vehicles). I/we really have no sense of “range anxiety” either: You very quickly realize the capabilities of the vehicle and drive within those limits. I’m still, however, searching for trips to expand those capabilities/boundaries (e.g. trips longer than a single charge will allow, taking the EV camping with us via a trailer, etc.).

Here is hoping for another 10,000 happy miles (or even 20,000 and more happy miles for that matter).

The maiden voyage…

Maiden voyage? “Hey wait a sec, you’ve had this EV for a while now?” Yes I have (in fact I’m only about 30 miles from 10,000 miles on the odometer and will probably be making a post about the 10k mark soon). The maiden voyage was in our new camper. Typically when you purchase a new camper you take a short camping trip to someplace close by just to make sure everything works (and if you get stuck you aren’t so far away, etc.). Now my 3 readers are also thinking: “Hey this is an EV blog and now you’re talking about camping..stick to what the blog is supposed to be about!” (I read this comment on many people’s blogs when they stray off of their core subject. Frankly this opinion is absurd: The blog is theirs/mine not yours to regulate and thus they and I can post on whatever topic we want to. Do you complain when visiting someone’s house when they ask you to remove your shoes at the door? Or do you loudly shout: “This is a free country I can wear my shoes around your house if I want to!” Ok I’m digressing here.)

Like I said above, this first trip is typically near by..not too far away that we couldn’t take a particular vehicle with us…
The Two Vehicles

There we are with both the EV and the camper at Harbortown RV Resort just outside Monroe, Michigan. This is a pretty decent campground if you have kids. There is two go-kart tracks, a mini-golf, and a batting cage out front. It is just over 10 years old so the trees they planted haven’t grown enough for shade. Every campsite is paved (which is how we ended up here since our first choice of campground in Frankenmuth, Mi wasn’t accepting reservations as all the snow we’ve had has made their grounds all soft and muddy).

A word on our new camper: A Thor Axis. This is a brand new model for 2014: A “Class A in Class C clothing” (small as a Class C but looks like a Class A). It looks large in the picture, but at only 25 feet long it really is a smaller camper. The small size makes it very easy to maneuver around. Backing into a campsite, driveway, parking spot, etc. is as easy as backing in a van (easier: a van doesn’t have 3 external cameras). The interior is laid out very well–a lot of thought went into what to put where. So far after one camping weekend with it we can say: We’re going to have a lot of fun with it.

As far as camping with an EV: I can’t think of a more perfect vehicle to accompany you on your camping trips (and it means you don’t have to rent that golf cart at the campground). You can simply plug in your car to the electric at the site and charge up. In our case I haven’t made any adapters for our Level 2 charger yet so I just used some standard camping adapters to plug the Level 1 charger included with the car into one of the spare plugs. The slow Level 1 charge didn’t pose any problems since we’re camping–you’re not really in any hurry when you’re camping. By the time we needed the car on Saturday it had more than enough time to charge back up to 100% from the commute to the campground.

Speaking of the ride to the campground, on the way there the car “complained” that we were passing the 1/2 way point and may not be able to return home. This warning got me thinking: If we eventually get that car trailer and haul the car somewhere a few hundred miles away from home will the car freak out? “Um yeah you’re like 300 miles from home there is NO way you’re going to get there on any charge level!”

The limited range of the EV doesn’t really pose a problem here: You can charge all you want (even better if you can get a 50A plug and use Level 2), and usually you select the campground to be in a central spot near all of the points of interest you wish to see. As a bonus you really only camp when its warm out: optimal weather for humans is also optimal weather for EVs: The maximum range will be available in the car.

By the way, ever wonder what it looks like camping in Michigan in early April?
The Campground

Yeah, we were one of only about 4 campers there getting that early start on the season!