Ford amps up electric vehicle program with Focus and C-Max
Three-pronged strategy includes all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and standard hybrid vehicles
Dearborn, Mich. — It may feature a semi-cheesy slogan — the "Power of Choice," as in your choice of power(plant), geddit? — but Ford's rollout of its upcoming electric car program is anything but small fry. Admittedly playing a bit of catch-up with Toyota and Nissan — the current leaders in the hybrid and electric vehicle segments — Ford has opted to hit the market with a complete lineup of electrified models rather than doling them out piecemeal.
Thus, over the next few months, we'll be seeing a completely gasoline-free Focus Electric, a C-Max Hybrid as well as the new C-Max Energi featuring hybridization of the plug-in variety. Ford also unveiled an interesting strategy that makes the simultaneous introduction all these cars possible.
Unlike some specialty electric cars with dedicated platforms and production lines, the Focus EV, C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi (which all share the same platform) are all built in Ford's Wayne, Mich. assembly plant alongside the conventional Focus. According to Ford, this modular assembly process allows the company to respond quickly to changes in demand and mix in its electric vehicle lineup.
Perhaps even more interesting is that Ford is targeting the industry leader, Toyota, right out of the gate. Making this aggressive stance even more interesting is that Ford and Toyota have a long history of cooperation in hybrid production. Nonetheless, Ford is touting that the new C-Max Hybrid boasts better fuel economy (both city and highway) than the upcoming Prius V and that the Energi plug-in version has a greater range (approximately 30 kilometres of electric-only driving) in EV mode than the new pluggable Prius.
Both C-Maxs use an electric motor in conjunction with a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle inline-four to maximize fuel economy. Unlike Ford's EcoBoost engines, the C-Max 2.0L is not turbocharged, though the company still extols its ability to sip fuel. Of course, the difference between the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi is that the regular hybrid version has a smaller battery (Ford will still not reveal its exact capacity) and that the Energi has a standard electric charge port in its left front fender allowing its battery to be replenished using either 120- or 240-volt circuits (the latter for quicker recharging time).
All Ford electrified vehicles (and that includes the Focus Electric EV) also get an enhanced MyFord mobile smartphone app that allows users to monitor charging, receive alerts, find charge stations and plan trips. As well, the onboard computer display offers a unique Brake Coach that "helps drivers optimize their use of the regenerative braking system so that driving range can be enhanced through proper braking techniques." Essentially, it encourages drivers to use gentler, less aggressive braking so that more regenerated braking is used while minimizing the need for mechanical braking (i.e. using the actual disc brakes).
Of course, in the all-electric Focus EV, all these features are greatly enhanced. Not only can you monitor the Focus' battery level from anywhere, but you can also schedule charging to minimize electricity costs. The same app will find local charging stations (presuming there are any) and even keep a running tab on your CO2 emissions and money you've saved by motoring so virtuously on electricity. Your smart phone — BlackBerry, Android or iPhone — can even pre-heat (or cool, if it's summer) the Focus' cabin before you drive away.
A 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $1.3 million. Do you think classic cars were made better than modern rides?
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- Yes, the quality of cars from the 1960s and '70s is the best
- No, modern technology makes cars better today
- Maybe, it's hard to say since most Canadians get a new car every 10 years