Category Archives: Ford Focus Electric

Can’t catch a break

On any given day at my work you can find two FFE’s. It is rather unusual that we park next to each other like above, though. On that day my coworker’s FFE had just returned from its latest hardship–his FFE has led a much tougher life than mine:

Ironically, in the picture above his is on the left: the cleaner one as it had just returned from being repaired from the accident.

The story gets even more sordid: On the day he picked it up from the dealer after getting the body work repaired he discovered that the 12V battery was dead (for the 2nd time). When he managed to get the car back to the dealership they were out of power: Their transformer had blew. It took a couple of days before the dealer was back up and running before he could get his car back. (On that 12V battery: When we measure the charging voltages between our two FFEs; mine is consistently between 1/2 volt to 1 volt higher.)

Nonetheless he still is pretty happy with his FFE and continues to drive it (when it isn’t being repaired). The funny thing is: When we were both putting our orders in for the car I had warned him about some possible issues (like the Stop Safely Now issue, etc.) and his reply was: “I’m fully aware of what I’m getting into.”!

* During the record rains we got in August of 2014 his area was one of the hardest hit. He said there were several instances when he was driving around where the water level was just below his rear view mirrors. Yet his car never leaked inside and it continued to function normally.

The bad part of preconditioning

Preconditioning: Where you can setup the car to be ready to go at a specific time every day (like during the week and you want the car nice and toasty warm for your commute in to work)–what can be bad about that? The car is warm. The battery is conditioned (heated or cooled for best performance). What could possibly be a negative?

Well its spring; when the mild weather returns, the snow melts, and some of the critters return. In our area one of the harbingers of spring is skunks. Typically we’ll see three or four on the road dead. Each dead one on the road produces that lovely skunky odor for a good mile in radius. What is worse is when the neighbors let their dog out in the morning who gets immediately sprayed and then your car starts to precondition. Yup…that is the bad part: My car was even closed up in a garage but still found a way to grab some of that lovely skunk musk.

Fortunately the car itself didn’t get sprayed and a few minutes with the windows open took care of any lingering essence. Even so this is a minor drawback to the car automatically preconditioning itself (granted any neighbors with their ICE cars outside remote starting them would also subject their cars to the same treatment). Our neighbors got it much worse and were still doing damage control as I left for work–they are a bit experienced at this as their dog has been sprayed a few times now.

 

20,000 leagues under the….er miles under the wheels

This afternoon my FFE will roll over the 20,000 mile mark. This milestone also means I’m approaching the 2/3 point of my lease. My thoughts are more frequently considering what will be the next car (I’ve mentioned before on the blog that the next car will more than likely be a plugin). Given the timing of things I doubt my Ford choices for another plugin will be much different than what they are now (FFE, or one of the two Energi products).

Just today there is a new rumor about Ford producing a 200+ mile car. Even if this rumor is remotely true, it is very unlikely that the 200+ mile EV will be in production before my lease is up. Even the rumored timing of the Chevy Bolt places its sale well after my lease end date. The only new plugins to be available for me in the time frame are cars like the VW Golf or the new Volt. Both of which I may consider if only briefly.

All of these considerations are still more than a year off though. Today I’ll just silently observe the changeover from 19,999 to 20,000 (if I happen to be looking at the odometer) in a bittersweet moment as the novelty hasn’t really worn off about driving a BEV around..

Which reminds me…have to take it in for that $10 20,000 mile service (rotate the tires).

 

Brrrr yup another winter weather post

Hey I haven’t posted a winter weather post for a few months now! LOL I’m due for one.

This morning our thermometer’s are reading -11F which is a record in these parts (official temp this morning -10F, old record was -8F from 1934). In these brutal days I pretty much use all of the battery for my 30 mile commute, arriving home with the <10 mile remaining warning indicator showing. I find my non-symmetric power consumption interesting: In the morning I precondition the car and attempt to use as little electricity is possible on my way in. For the drive home, however, I crank the heat and take the freeway maximizing power consumption. The net result is that I use about 25-30% of the battery in the morning and almost 60% of the battery in the evening.

Another thing that is noticeable about the car in such cold weather: The noise. On a balmy 70F degree day the car is virtually silent with only a slight whrrr noise from the front. In temps this cold things shrink and start rubbing differently, the plastic squeaks, the window creaks, the driver moans, etc. Makes you feel like something is going to break during the commute.

Thankfully this cold spell is happening in the 2nd half of February which means it can’t last too long…right? (Last year the cold spell started in January and thus the light at the end of the tunnel was a lot further off).

 

Enhanced Trip Meter

Nearing the end of my series on the dashboard (maybe one or two more) we come to the “Enhanced Trip Meter”:

You turn this on by using the left arrow pad on the steering wheel, select “trip 1 & 2” then press the right arrow. From the menu that appears select “Enhanced”.

Ford has a brief video on the trip meters:

Its a good idea to use one of the trip meters to watch the battery: Reset it every time you charge to full. The total kWh value shown will give you a good idea of how much you have left (more than just the % value shown everywhere). The FFE has about 18.5 kWh of usable battery charge thus comparing that with the kWh value in the trip meter is another decent estimate of power remaining (the kWh value in the trip meter will actually count down during brake regeneration).

The Wh/mi value shows the average Wh/mi consumption since you reset the meter and is a good way to judge how efficient you’re driving. In the above image 240 Wh/mi is really good for my FFE in the dead of winter. Typically when I have to use the heat the value will be 300 Wh/mi or higher (in one instance it was really cold out and I was driving on the highway into the wind it read over 400 Wh/mi). In the summer months it is not uncommon to see values in the 220s range or lower depending on the roads driven.

For those people who like hard numbers and not pretty graphs the enhanced trip meter provides plenty of engineering eye candy.

 

Budget + Avg

By far the most used and popular dash view/configuration (at least within the myfocuselectric forums) is using MyView showing the climate and “other” current power consumption combined with the Budget + Avg item on the right. I’ve mentioned this display in my “What your dashboard can tell you” post.
The view looks like this:

Ford has a video about how to configure MyView:

 

(This is the same video I posted in the Range View post.)

This view gives you the most information available about power consumption in the car. The climate graph shows how much power (kW) that the HVAC is currently using (on a cold winter day running the heat will frequently peg this graph). “Other” shows everything else: rear defroster, headlights, radio, seat heat, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen “other” go above a tick or two.

Below the two graphs is the usual budget and status values showing the range at start (budget) and the difference between the current calculated range and range at start (status). More explanation of budget/status can be found here.

To the right of those is the infamous “blue cup” (discussed at length here). This gauge is showing three values simultaneously: Budget, instant consumption, and average consumption all in Wh/mile x100. The budget is represented by the blue cup. Instant consumption is the white line and finally average consumption is the two white tick marks. The basics of this display: If you can keep the two white tick marks (average consumption) at or below the top of the blue cup then you will make the budgeted range. If the tick marks fall significantly below the top of the cup you’ll go much farther than the budgeted range. If you’re really driving bad/aggressively and the tick marks are above the blue cup you will not be able to go as far as the budgeted range.

I can easily say that this display stays on my left side dash for a good 95% of my driving if not more (other than the past few weeks when I’ve been experimenting with different displays for these series of posts).

 

Energy History

Next up, the Energy History view:

I had wrote about this view earlier. Note that in that post I had about 5000 miles on the car, and in the above image I’m quickly approaching 20000 miles. Time flies when you’re having fun (although I don’t think my skills at capturing images from the dash have improved at all).

Ford even has a helpful video on the Energy History view:

Although their car is brand spanky new with only 147 miles on it!

The item that this view misses is the white tick marks on the “budget cup” at left showing your average power consumption. Those are the most useful of all the dash displays and are only available on one setting. Another thing I’d change to this view would be to add your average for the time period as its being calculated (shade inside the leftmost graph just like the 5 others but the height is the current minutes average) that way when they shift to the right you already know what the value is going to be.

I will frequently use this display with it set to 1 minute intervals as party of the configurable “MyView” shown in the image above. I find that the longer intervals are only useful if your trip is substantially longer than the total. With 1 minute intervals the display shows your power consumption over the past 5 minutes (2 minute intervals shows 10 minutes, etc.). The funny thing is that the white line shows you your “instant” power consumption: You can spend the whole minute keeping the white line below the blue cup and then see a yellow bar when it scrolls to the right–you could have a small instance of great power consumption that completely overrides the conservative driving for the rest of the minute.

A quick glance at this display shows how you’ve been doing for the past few minutes: If you see a lot of yellow you’re over budget, blue you’re good.

 

Range View

Now that I’m really comfortable driving the FFE around (I should be after a year and a half! LOL) I figure it might be a good time to produce a few articles on some of the different displays/gauges available on the FFE.

Today’s gauge is the “Range View” gauge:

This view can be shown on its own or as the left side of the MyView display. For more on MyView watch this Ford video:

Note that the MyView video above is pretty old and does show some “views” that are not currently available on the dash of the FFE’s MyView. In addition here is another Ford video discussing the range view:

A quick discussion on the FFE forums revealed what I had suspected: Almost nobody uses this gauge. The scaling of the numbers seems to enhance range anxiety rather than alleviate it (calling out the last 10 miles of the available range). In addition the view doesn’t seem like it would be very useful unless you frequently drove the car to less than 10 miles remaining. The display does graphically represent the two numbers shown below it (the budget and status, or distance to destination and surplus).

When you program in a destination on the Nav screen the range view switches (like the other displays on the FFE) to distance to destination and surplus. The switch does make the display marginally more effective.

I’ve been driving around with this gauge setup for the past few days. My impression has been that, for my commute where I don’t need Nav and I use less than 50% of the battery, it isn’t that useful. It was rather interesting the one time I used Nav with it watching the graph slide towards zero as I approached the destination (the only place in the car showing such a graph even though the numerical value is shown in 3 different places in the car!).

 

2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)

Known locally as “The Detroit Auto Show”. For this years show I was only really interested in 3 cars: The new Volt, the Bolt concept car, and what kind of treatment would my beloved FFE get? There wasn’t anything else “new” that I was interested in (or that I haven’t seen before)–at least with respect to plug in cars.
The new Volt: This car is really sharp compared to the old Volt. To my eyes it looks a bit sleeker and more modern. In addition there is sort of room for 3 in the back seat:
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
2016 Chevy Volt
The Bolt concept car: This is GM’s 200 mile concept EV. I like the looks of it–to me it has a very similar form factor to the Ford Escape, or C-Max (although it is a bit smaller than either):
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt
The Focus Electric: Last year Ford had all their plugin cars off to the corner of the display, almost as an afterthought. This year the plugin section was a little more prominent in with the cars. As for the FFE: It was smack dab right in the center of the Ford display!
Focus Electric
Focus Electric
Unfortunately we decided to go to the show at the same time as everyone else from Southeastern Michigan and thus I wasn’t able to get many clear shots of any other cars of interest (not that there were many more of interest than mentioned above). Tesla only had Model S’s on display of which all of them were packed with people.
Tesla Model S
A few other items to note: Aside from GM having the Volt/Bolt up on a prominent display and VW mixing the eGolf with the other Golf’s most other manufacturer’s plugin cars were off to the corner, almost as an afterthought. Even Nissan had their only Leaf way in the back of their display.
Nissan Leaf
The other observation was the demographic of people taking pictures: Those taking pictures of plugins tended to be younger college age (especially around the less expensive plugins like the Leaf or the Smart car). Those taking pictures of your typical ICE vehicle were more middle aged (except for Tesla–everyone was taking pictures of Tesla’s).

Ford working on CCS for the FFE?

Is for working on CCS for the FFE? A couple too many acronyms there? Ok we know FFE = Ford Focus Electric as I’ve been using that in this blog for quite some time now, but CCS? CCS = Combined Charging Standard. It is the “fast charge” capability that SAE (yeah another acronym: Society of Automotive Engineers) had developed for North America.

To date Ford has said nothing about any improvements to the FFE. Just a year ago when they announced the 2015 ICE Focus the big news for the FFE was an additional color that was it. Since then Ford has said not so much as a peep about the future of the FFE (or even any possible BEV product). When they announced the 2015 Focus there was rumors that Ford would be including a Focus Energi. That rumor made a lot of sense: They already had the powertrain developed, it is already in a Focus based product (the C-Max), therefore it would take very little engineering to get done. Alas the 2014 auto show circuit came and went with no new news on any electrified Focus (or Ford BEV model).

Fast forward to today: We are in the middle of the auto season here (with the LA Auto show kicking it off last fall and the Detroit Auto show in a week). Included in this is CES. Now CES isn’t your usual auto show, but Ford has had a keynote address there for the past few years (in fact it was back in 2011 that Ford announced the FFE at the CES). This years Ford CES keynote can be viewed here. I encourage you to take the time to watch it as it shows the very different direction Ford is taking/planning for way out in the future. Pay careful attention at the 29 minute mark, though where Mark Fields says this:

It would also be beneficial if urban shared vehicles were electric. Because not only do they lower operating costs they also can be refueled in their parking space. But shared EVs need time to charge and in Dearborn we are developing fast charging technology for our vehicles. Plus we’re looking at partnerships with retail and fast food businesses to develop fast charging infrastructure. Because we want to make EVs easer to use because when more people chose EVs everyone benefits from the lower emissions.

The context of the quote is for an urban vehicle sharing environment but the last few sentences (about businesses and what they are doing in Dearborn) hints that they are already working on this for production vehicles. The only fast charging technology that Ford has publicly bought into is the J1772 CCS standard (and the photo in the video seems to imply that is what is on the FFE shown–including a much simpler charge port door):

CCS Fast charging doesn’t really make sense for the Energi products with their 21-mile range and small batteries. It only really makes sense for the FFE or another large battery BEV. Thus one could conclude from this small morsel of information that either a CCS enabled FFE is coming down the pipeline, or that Ford is working on another BEV for the marketplace?

Will Ford slip in more pieces of info like this at the Detroit Auto show in a week? You’ll have to pay close attention (like I did pulling the above needle out of a haystack)..!