Category Archives: Ford Focus Electric

A PowerXPress “recall”?

Interesting, I got the following note in the mail from Bosch:
PowerXPress note
Here is the text:

Our records indicate that you are using your Power Xpress to charge an electric
vehicle(s) with a charging system that operates at 30A or higher. Recent
incidents have occurred in which customers have expressed concerns related
to the performance of the Power Xpress while charging at 30A or higher. Some
consumers have reported incidences of sticking or melting within the connection
between the charging station coupler and the vehicle inlet.
The. Power Xpress is designed to charge vehicles up to 32A. A new cable/coupler
assembly has been designed to address the customer concerns while charging
at 30A or higher. In an effort to secure your complete satisfaction, Bosch will
upgrade your Power Xpress with a new cable/coupler assembly — completely at
your convenience, and at our cost.
The division of SPX Corporation that originally designed and sold the Power
Xpress became part of the Bosch group of companies and now operates as Bosch
Automotive Services Solutions Inc. (“Bosch”). Therefore, Bosch will be addressing
your charging needs going forward, including the upcoming interaction with you
regarding your charging station.
A Bosch customer service representative will be contacting you within the next
30 days in order to arrange for this upgrade. We will coordinate with you to have
a Bosch certified electrical contractor visit your installation at a time of your
choosing to complete the exchange of the coupler and cable. Because the Power
Xpress was designed for field replacement of the cable/coupler assembly, this
repair will take less than one hour and will not disturb your installation or its
environment in any way. A licensed electrician will detach the existing cable/
coupler from the unit and simply install the new one.
Should you no longer own your Power Xpress, we ask that you forward this
message along to the new owner if possible, or provide the new owner’s contact
information if available.

If you have any questions in advance of our contacting you,
please call Bosch at +1 888 823-9877.
Bosch Automotive Service Solutions

This is interesting! You may remember that my coworker suffered from this very problem. A technician eventually did replace the cable in his unit at no cost. The issue must have happened to more than a few EV owners for Bosch to issue this recall.

 

What’s the Best EV for the average consumer

Green Car Reports published this article attempting to clarify “The Best EV for the Average Consumer”. As one would expect the comments are overflowing LOL.

Given the title of my blog here you can also predict what my answer is. I find some of the reasons to eliminate the FFE from contention to be quite arbitrary: Eliminating the compliance cars because they are low quantity sellers and there may be service issues? A low quantity seller means you’re more unique than driving around one of the million other Leafs? Service issues? (As pointed out in one of the comments) These are EVs which have much fewer moving parts and hence less need for service. Besides: The FFE is mostly the same as an ICE Focus and there are Ford dealers everywhere.

The biggest reason to discount the FFE, and justifiably so is the lack of any form of quick charging. (Hopefully Ford will include the CCS charge port at some point–they have publicly supported CCS instead of CHAdeMO since CCS is an SAE standard.) The “average” consumer would want a quick charge because designing for the “average” usually means the “lowest common denominator” thus you’d need quick charging even if the vast majority of people most likely would not need that feature. In reality if you need quick charging only once in the life of the car then you’d need the capability.

Having said all that, when people ask me if I’d recommend the FFE I heartily give its endorsement. If your lifestyle fits within the parameters of a short-range EV then go for it!

 

What to do about heat?

When you look under the hood of the FFE you notice that it has a rather large radiator (most likely its the same part in the ICE Focus–they look very similar). A large radiator like that is designed to dissipate a lot of heat something which the FFE doesn’t generate much of whilst driving around. The whole arrangement shows an interesting design decision on the part of Ford…

When you look at the front of the FFE you see the fake grill and a small opening for air below it, permitting a lot less airflow while driving than the conventionally powered Focus. In this pic you can clearly see the difference:
Red Focus Blue Focus
The front of the ICE Focus is open whereas the FFE just has that gap at the bottom. The reason for this is obvious on the ICE Focus: The gas engine generates a lot of waste heat that must be removed to prevent an overheat situation–even in cold weather there is still plenty of waste heat to go around.

For the FFE on the other hand: Very little heat is generated while driving and thus the front can be a solid nose (with a little decoration); even rounded a bit in an attempt to improve aerodynamics (look at most EVs they all will have very little pass-through). What about that large radiator though? This comes into play during charging and on hot days. The FFE has a battery temperature management system. When charging the battery generates a lot of heat. Heat that also must be dissipated to prevent damage to the battery. This is the reason for the large radiator: To help with this heat removal. In addition, when charging, the car is stationary so there is no forced air coming in from the front; airflow must be generated by the radiator fan (most likely also the same part number as on the ICE Focus). Indeed, during charging I quite frequently hear the radiator fan running at full speed (especially near the end of the charge cycle).

The other use for the radiator is similar: removing heat but this is during a hot day. When the outside temperature gets a bit hot out the car will “complain” that its hot out and should be plugged in. This is to use the fan, and if needed the chiller, to remove heat from the battery if it gets too warm (something it won’t do if parked and not plugged in).

Note that the car also complains when parked and its cold out to be plugged in so that it can keep the battery warm.

I bet you were expecting different subject matter when reading the title of the post?

 

New Sync 3

Today Ford announced Sync version 3:

Ford today introduced Sync 3, the latest generation of its infotainment system that will debut on 2016 Ford and Lincoln models next year in a bid to win over critics who found past versions hard to use.

I’ve briefly played with the new system–or at least a very early version of it. It is very responsive and smartphone like (drag across the map to pan, pinch to zoom out, etc.). The article also mentions new features like the ability to download updates over a WiFi internet connection–a very handy feature. I’m not sure how many customers will go that route though as I’d bet there is a good number of MyFordTouch systems that have never been updated at all. Well at least the tech savvy customers will appreciate that.

As far as the FFE is concerned: I wouldn’t expect this to show up until at least the 2016 FFE at the earliest; perhaps even when the Focus redesign hits somewhere around 2017. We’ll see (it would be nice if it does make it to the 2016 as my lease will be up by then).

 

Going green by….painting?

Ford has partnered up with artist Trina Merry to paint their plugins and people to match their surroundings in an effort to showcase the “greenness” of the cars:

The good news here is, of course, that they actually show an FFE! This is one of the very few times where I’ve seen Ford include the FFE along with the Energi vehicles.

Maybe, just maybe Ford will promote the FFE more?? Naaahh what was I thinking…!! LOL

Update: They’ve produced a video only on the FFE:

 

 

More colors!

With the 2015 model year Ford has added at least one new color for the FFE: Ruby Red. This is welcome news since prior model years only offered one “splashy” color along with the standard list of conservative colors (white, black, silver).

My own anecdotal observations show that this is much needed (e.g. non-scientific wild guess LOL). I see a lot of the current “splashy” color, Blue Candy (BC), around. At the moment I know of at least 6 FFE’s in Blue Candy on my side of town: In addition to mine and my coworkers I’ve seen on several occasions BC FFE’s driving around (granted all of the ones I’ve seen could all be the same one). These sightings are in addition to the several BC conventional Focuses I see a day (again these all could be the same cars, especially since I take the same route to/from work and thus are probably seeing the same drivers along their same route).

This is, of course, all unscientific and simply my observations since studies have shown, over and over again that the most popular car colors are the three conservative ones: black, white, silver. (For some data see here). At least its nice that Ford is giving the new FFE driver another choice in Red–I probably would have chose that Red had it been available at the time of my order.

 

How does the FFE Charge?

This question could be answered in many ways depending on how you interpret the question: There is a technical answer (it uses a 6.6kW charger inside the car), simply (you just plug it in and it charges), how much current is used, how fast does it get to 100%.

In this case I was interested in the last answer above: Does the FFE’s % battery full “meter”/value increase linearly when charging? Li-Ion batteries themselves don’t charge up linearly. As the battery gets closer to full the internal resistance of the battery increases making it harder to force more electrons in and thus the charging rate of the battery slows down the closer to full it gets. If you were to plot this you’d get a curve where charging is quite fast at the beginning then as you approach 100% it flattens out slowly approaching 100%.

Having done a little reverse engineering on the API that the mobile app and the website use I was able to make a program that logs the % battery value and the range over time. Now if I were to log these values during a charge cycle I could produce a graph to see the charge curve. The graph could be a line as the internal software in the FFE could normalize the % value to a line while charging (to simplify it for users). Frankly I don’t think they would go through that much effort–there would be no benefit to anyone (other than geeky people like me who write blog posts about graphing the car charging! LOL). So I give you my FFE’s charging plot from about 35% to full on a freezing Friday evening:
Charge Plot
The blue line is the % battery value and the orange line is the estimated range value (only topping out at 70 miles here due to the cold days we’ve been having and the fact that I’ve been using the heater).
What surprises me the most about this plot is how flat it is. I was expecting it to be much steeper with a pronounced knee near the end as it flattened out. Note that there are a few gaps in the data as the API timed out or otherwise gave an error. There is also an unexpected turn faster around 10:00pm where it charges slightly faster. I wonder if this is where the temperature management system kicked in to cool the battery a bit allowing for a slightly faster charge..

I have another idea for this logging: What if I were to let it log while I was driving the car around? That plot may also prove interesting as the % battery value would decrease in a predictable manner but the estimated range (the guess-O-meter) value would be all over the place depending on if the heat was on or off, if I was on the freeway, etc. Some more experimentation is in order here…

My “My Ford Mobile”

It turns out that simply using the developer tools in Chrome you can reverse engineer the REST interface to My Ford Mobile….and make your own app!
My My Ford Mobile
What you see here is just dumping out some fields that are returned by a “get battery condition” call. It isn’t as pretty as the official MFM app (and mine won’t be: I’m a programmer not a designer). Not sure how far I’ll take it, but its fun to hack around with.

 

The beginning of EV Winter

Today marked the beginning of EV winter, or FFE winter if you will. Yeah another cold weather post–I know move south already LOL.

The momentous occasion to mark this event is that today was the first day, for me, when the car complained that its cold outside and should be plugged in. This morning our outside temps are about 24F–about two weeks ahead of “normal” for us.

Even though I’ve been through this once already I’m still experimenting. This week I bumped the precondition temps back up to 85F so the car would be nice and toasty again. The experimentation this time: Many people on the forums have mentioned that to prevent the windows from fogging up simply crack a window. Hmm if this works effectively and I still stay warm it could be the best way to drive in with the lowest power consumption in the dead of winter. This morning I had the drivers window cracked about 1/2″ and HVAC off for my 15 mile commute in. The window never fogged up and the temperature remained quite reasonable. I’ll have to try 1/4″ next week….

 

 

What is Ford’s next EV move?

If you are expecting some insider information here you’ll be sorely disappointed! LOL

That’s the rub though: We’ve heard rumors and speculation about what Ford will do in the past but nothing concrete. There have been rumors of an EV MKS, “insider info” about a Focus Energi, many have postulated that an EV MKZ would be perfect from Ford. What have we heard from Ford itself? Crickets..

Even though Ford’s people have said stuff like “We could make a Model S” and “We could make an electric Mustang” the implied statement following both of those would be “but we won’t” (otherwise why say something like that..you’d just do it).

Another point is the fact that Ford did announce the Focus Electric waaay back in 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show. It wasn’t released to purchase until December 2012–that is almost two years. Granted this was a brand new powertrain for Ford to tackle. For contrast: Ford announced the all aluminum new 2015 F-150 back in January 2014 at the Detroit auto show and it is already “on sale” (you can order one now but can’t take delivery until early 2015). This is only a years timeframe.

This means that a new EV from Ford will be 1 or 2 years out from any announcements they make..and they haven’t said a peep. So all you get now is empty speculation.. and the fear that Ford won’t say anything about EVs for the foreseeable future…

Of course I could be a bit impatient here as well since we are heading into “auto show season” (LA Auto show is next week and it would make sense for Ford to announce any EV news there… we’ll see.)