Category Archives: Ownership Story


A few days ago I noticed during my car’s preconditioning that the plug to the charger was getting a bit warm to the touch. Our weather has been pretty mild recently which means that the precondition to 72F shouldn’t be using that much current–just a bit to run the fans, especially near the end of the precondition time. This is very odd since the plug wouldn’t get warm at all back in January when it was <0F out and was preconditioning to 85F.

This warmth raised a red flag in my mind: A similar thing had happened to my coworker. I haven’t mentioned him in a while–the same one with the battery problems at the plant before his car was even delivered. What had happened to him: Over the course of a few weeks his EVSE plug would get warmer with each charge until it eventually got so warm he couldn’t touch it and it was melting the connector on the vehicle side. At the time there was no clear indication if the heat was coming from the vehicle side of the connector or the charger plug. His Ford dealer replaced the car side plug under warranty but the heat and melting continued. This lead to the conclusion that the problem was the EVSE’s plug. Replacing the EVSE solved the heat problem.
Melted Vehicle connector

The reason that I’m a bit concerned about my charger is that we both had the Bosch PowerXPress EVSE installed as part of the deal with our electricity supplier. This unit has various current settings and can be setup for 16A (its default setting for the Volt) all the way up to 30A for cars with quicker chargers. We both had ours setup for 30A service. So far to date mine has never exhibited any kind of heat issue. Looks like I’ll be looking for a new EVSE–been looking for a portable solution for a while and that Clipper Creek LCS-25 looks like a really nice solution.


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).

Bad battery and clear roads…

Another “winter” post with a twist: With the bad weather again returning–mostly subzero temperatures–I put the FFE in the garage and drove the truck for a day. Leaving the truck outside to keep the FFE “toasty warm” in the garage (at freezing!) I retired for the night. In the morning, with the EV all warmed, loaded up and ready to go I hopped into the truck to move it…click..!? Try again…click…nothing. Fortunately I do have a set of jumper cables (hey it is a pickup–no pickup should be caught anywhere without jumper cables–but I digress) a quick jump from our other ICE Focus and it was up and running. Guess I’ll be getting a new battery for the truck; LOL.

With the FFE all warmed up and ready to go the commute in was relatively easy and only consumed 4.1 kWh or 26% of the battery. Just a few days ago the commute was consuming 31% of the battery at the same outside temperature (~13F). The only difference is that today the roads were completely clear and dry and the prior days the roads had a good 3″ of slush and snow on them. Thus slogging through the snowy roads causes the car to consume about an extra 800 Wh or so vs driving on clear roads.

I didn’t even consider that driving on a snow covered road would consume almost a full 1kWh of power over my commute…interesting.

A Tesla first…

Big news today in the Tesla world: A first ever cross country trip using only Tesla Superchargers was completed this weekend by a father daughter team.

You can read up on their adventures in the Tesla Motors forums here.

The story is very interesting and very well planned: Some of the Superchargers were not even available yet when they started the journey! Very brave souls indeed.

If you look at the Supercharger map currently the only way to go from NY to LA is via a circuitous northern route via Chicago, South Dakota, down through Colorado and Arizona–a very long drive to say the least but through some of the most scenic areas of the country. Many on that forum are proclaiming this as a historic moment like the first trip from NY to Paris by plane, etc. I don’t think I would go that is historic as far as EVs are concerned though.

Kudos to John and his daughter for having the time, courage and energy to try it.

Hopefully soon there will be other long range EVs that will be able to easily accomplish the same feat (I might add affordable to that as well).

Looks like some media is picking it up:

Green Car Reports

Daily Kos

Inside EVs

Update: Now Elon Musk will be taking the trip as well.

Update 2: The story is now on Tesla’s website.

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).


Not every day is a good day for EVs….

I’m pretty sure my EV blog has now become a winter weather blog! LOL

For those of us in Northern climes having a backup vehicle for your EV can be essential on some days. Like today, we woke up with about an inch of snow on the ground with another four inches expected to fall over the course of the day (strangely enough, places further south are expected to get double that snowfall). On days like these I usually revert back to my old daily driver:
The big bad F-350

Yup sitting there behind my ultra efficient Focus Electric is our big bad, Darth Vader like, black F-350 with a V-10 gas engine in it. On a good day this thing gets 11 mpg. (Yes one of the reasons for getting the FFE was to reduce the monthly fuel expenses–went from $350+ for the black beast down to $40 for the FFE!)

Now, mind you, we have a perfectly good reason for having the F-350 towing monster:
Truck n Camper

We’ve taken this guy all over the Eastern portion of the US (yeah in this configuration 8 mpg is very optimistic). I’ll be happy the day you can get an all-electric F-350 that can pull 30,000 lbs and still have 200 miles of range!

So, for today, I think the EV will sit in the garage and later I’ll go out and have fun in 4×4 mode. Happy trails….

Update: 12/15 We did end up getting around 6″ of snow. You could tell that it was snowing faster than they could plow it (at least for the residential streets). Driving around is kind of interesting: If you find a rut down to pavement you’re ok.

Took the FFE out to see how it would handle it. It handles the snow pretty well. Once you’re above 10 mph or so it only modulates power to the wheels (instead of using the brakes). This works out quite well–even better than an ICE as the motor responds to the traction control commands quicker than a gas engine would. You simply point it in the direction you want it to go and hit the accelerator–the traction control will determine the best speed to go at (even if it is only 3 mph–you just have to be prepared for that!).


Long trip planning, the Tesla way…or is it the EV way?

I found this article quite interesting for a few reasons (take some time to go read it…I’ll wait):

  • The current lack of Tesla Super Chargers on the east coast forces the driver to plan a bit more–like having a Focus Electric, or a Leaf (or any other <100 mile range BEV)
  • The driver comes to the conclusion at the end that is better to be more efficient than to rush (determining that driving slower and using less electricity actually saves time in the long run)
  • His reported “burn rate” for electricity is really not much higher than the FFE “burns” (300+ Wh/mile in the cold with the heater running, ~270 Wh/mile in milder conditions without heat from the article).

The ability to quick charge the Tesla does make for a much nicer experience when taking a long drive. In the above article he gets 190+ miles for 45 minutes of charge–short enough that a simple stop for dinner fills it up. I certainly hope that the next generation of EVs (FFE included) has a provision for fast charging (the J1772 Combo Plug option is already available on the Chevy Spark, and Ford has pledged to support it on future BEV and PHEV vehicles).


Turkey day drive

Our destination for Thanksgiving this year was family located across town about 41 miles away. I had some internal debate about which car should we take: the ICE Focus or the Focus Electric? Some of the things weighing in on the determination:

  • The temperature out was only 25F or so. At this temp the Focus Electric’s range is significantly impacted (even with the battery temperature management system)
  • The prior day the Focus Electric spent the entire day at the dealership getting the recall fixed.
  • The nearest Chargepoint station to our destination was about 1.5 miles away (ok to walk, but not pleasant at 25F out)

To help out with the determination, at least with regards to the recall, I took the car for a little (~15 miles or so) drive after picking it up from the dealer. This short of a drive wouldn’t really guarantee that there are no issues but it would point out anything that the dealer may have messed up. Fortunately for me the car drove and behaved no differently than it has in the past (the dealer indicated that about four modules were reprogrammed as part of the recall).

Nevertheless, as you can tell by this being a blog entry, we decided to take the Focus Electric. Upon our arrival the car was showing about 15 miles of range remaining (the trip meter indicated a burn rate of about 300 Wh/mile). We unloaded the car and I drove it over to the local Chargepoint station (a family member graciously volunteered to pick me up–saving me a brisk walk).
The car savoring those yummy Turkey Electrons
The trip there really posed no issues as the car was preconditioned and nice and toasty off of wall power before we left. The trip home proved to be a bit more interesting.
At the Chargepoint station I let the car charge itself up to about 96% battery (it was showing around 60 miles of range). This time there was no preconditioning and it was evening with the temperatures dropping further. I setup the navigation so that the car would tell me if we would make it or not–at no point during our journey did any of the navigation indications show that we couldn’t make it. We did get a “low battery” indication when exiting the freeway at the destination (which did provide some surprise/humor as we’re not used to getting “low battery” in a car–well first time anyway! LOL). In the end we made it with 13% battery remaining and about 8 miles of indicated range. Having said all that; not once during the trip, etc. did I ever experience any feeling that could even remotely be considered as “range anxiety”–I always knew that the car could make the trip.

Here is the trip in numbers:
Trip meter for the drive

Really getting cold here now…

This morning it was down to a chilly 24 degrees F–by far the coldest morning for the Focus Electric yet. Its so cold today that even the car is complaining:
Cold weather warning

Where I’m at the car is reading 24 F but the forecast is for warmer:
Weather forecast

Since I can’t plug in at work I did the best I could: Parked the car in a spot where it will get plenty of sunshine (when it rises). Hopefully that provides a little warmth for it.
We even got a little snow overnight:
Snow covered

But with the “Go” time set to 85F this is what was waiting for me when I left for work:
Go times go!

I also used the most electricity I’ve ever used on my 15 mile commute in to work leaving the battery state at 68% charged (yesterday it was as high as 77%–lately its been averaging somewhere around 75%. In the summer the best state was 80% after the morning commute).

This still leaves me plenty of juice for the 15 mile downhill commute. As winter progresses I don’t expect it to get much worse (as temperatures around here don’t really get much lower than the 20s).


Hey watch those tires!

I’m on my morning commute when I get an alarm tone from the dash and the yellow triangle appears. For a moment I thought the worst but then I looked closer: “Low Tire Pressure”! Really?

Ok granted I haven’t checked the tires since I got the car home back in May so its entirely possible that they are low. I pulled off into the nearest parking lot to check. All four tires appeared to be fine, no obvious bulging from low air and none of the wheels were riding on the rims.

I proceeded down the road to the next gas! station on my route, parked by the air hose and purchased a tire pressure gauge (I have one in the cars at home but not in the FFE). Sure enough the drivers front tire is down to 25lbs (the recommended pressure in the FFE is 38lbs). The TPMS will trigger an alarm when any tire’s pressure drops 25% below recommended (for the FFE that would be about 28lbs and below).

Since there is practically no maintenance requirements for EVs it is easy to forget some of the simple, required stuff like checking the air pressure in your tires!

Update: Checked the pressures with my good tire gauge at home: all 4 were around 25lbs when I got home. Pumped them all up to the 38 recommended and the car rode like it had solid wheels all the way in this morning! LOL