Tag Archives: Distance

The long road to warmer places

Happy New Year.

This being the new year we’ve just returned from a 10 day vacation that included a 2600 mile road trip (Michigan to Southern Florida and back). I’d like to say that we took the FFE for the trip but the two options I tried wouldn’t work (simply driving it there would have taken all 10 days and loading it on a flatbed trailer and towing it with our F-350 was cost prohibitive). In the end we decided to take the ICE Focus for the  journey.

I know this is an EV blog but hear me out: For a trip of such length the ICE Focus is a pretty good choice as far as efficiency is concerned. Creature comforts and storage is another question! Even with the full trunk available it was a challenge packing the three of us and our included “stuff” into the car. Frequent stops were required to simply pry us out of the car for short walks to get all the kinks out of the limbs–much of which would be similar attempting any lengthy trip in the FFE.

On the efficiency side of things: Overall the ICE Focus sipped fuel at around 35 mpg for the entire trip. Not too bad for the speeds and mountains involved. The best mileage for a tank of gas was in FL & GA where we got 37 mpg. These numbers show why it was a good idea to electrify the Focus: It already is a pretty efficient little vehicle. Converting it to a BEV only increases that efficiency even more.

I did notice a few familiar noises in the ICE Focus: If I listened carefully I could hear some common sounds with the FFE over the noisy gas engine. For instance: When changing the settings on the climate control you can hear the vacuum controlled valves move–these are common between the FFE and ICE Focus. You just hear them more on the FFE since there isn’t any other sounds drowning them out.

Over the 10 days I did miss the FFE and frequently thought about how it would have been a better vehicle for driving around town once we were at our destination. Checking on it with the mobile app helped, except for the 3 or 4 days where it inexplicably lost communications with Ford’s servers!? I did have some “go times” setup for it to turn on twice a week. These were set with the climate control off. This was done to maintain the charge on the 12V battery (some users have experienced the 12V battery discharging when the car is left for an extended period of time while plugged in).

 

Hey! I got a new car! (Planning those long drives)

What is the first thing people do when they get a new car? Or the thing they like to do? At least its something I’ve always done–not sure about anyone else! LOL. Typically when I get a new car I want to drive it all over the place to show all my friends and family my fancy new ride.

This activity is curtailed just a little bit when you can only go ~80 miles or so on a “tank” and it takes almost 20 hours to refill that “tank” (when I first got the FFE I didn’t yet have a Level 2 charger–that would take about a month to work through the paperwork and installation process–detailed in this post). Fortunately, for me, I had a nephew graduating from High School this meant graduation party and that meant that most of the family would be there. The only issue to this plan was: The location of the party would be outside the round trip range of the FFE from our house. (About a week before the party my Level 2 EVSE was installed.)

Now how to accomplish such a trip? I figured that I would need two things: A charge station relatively close to the party, and the time required to leave the car at the charge station to fill up (in the event that the charge station isn’t immediately close to the party). So lets look at the map of charge stations in the area:

SE Michigan Stations

 

Fortunately there are quite a few stations around the greater Detroit area–including a couple that I thought may work out: The party was in one of the Northern communities where there are a few malls around with stations within walking distance.  I found that there were two charge stations at Magna, of all places, within walking distance of a popular mall and within about 10 miles of the party. (Magna was one of the main developers of the Focus Electric.) Within a few miles of those chargers were some other ones near a hotel, and a restaurant (in the event that the Magna ones were taken). So plan in hand, and with the wife and kid’s blessing (since they were going to the party as well), we set off.

The driving was uneventful, if a tad humorous since I was driving a bit slower on the freeway than normal traffic speed (which did get a few angry “rush arounds” even though I was in the right lane–occasionally we’d  come across someone driving slower than our 65 mph pace). We arrived at Magna, activated the ChargePoint station and walked to the mall. Using the time estimate from the MyFordMobile app we estimated the time we needed to start walking back to the car so we would arrive with it fully charged. Sure enough, when we were within about a block of the car I got the text message indicating a full charge.

At the party there were a few curious onlookers wanting to see and “hear” the car in action–I even took the host for a short errand. Many were impressed with the car and indicated that they had or were considering an electric vehicle of some sort. Almost as many also had indicated that they had reasons to prevent them from a BEV or PHEV–to each his own.

Needless to say the trip was a success, the drive home was uneventful, and we may have even shown some people that yes, indeed, you can happily live with driving an electric car around. Total miles traveled was about 110 miles with about 20 miles in range showing when we arrived at home. Keep in mind that we took this trip fairly early on in the EV ownership experience when we were not really comfortable with how far the car really could take us. Today, after a few months of ownership, we often use the car for trips with 70+ mile round trip distances without a concern for running out of charge. Our next real “range anxiety” check will come as the temperature outside gets colder reducing battery performance.