First Drive: Ford Focus Electric
Battery electric vehicles are still a relatively small market in the UK and Ford believes this is a niche car. So training and equipment will be focused on the Dagenham Ford dealerships in the South East and volumes will be kept low.
But volume is there if needed. The Focus Electric is built on the same German production line as the petrol and diesel versions, which means Ford isn’t reliant on large volumes. This also means it can vary production to meet demand while catering for countries that are more receptive to the technology.
But small volumes aren’t an indication of a lack of commitment. Ford has doubled the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle engineers employed in the US, and it has converted a 285,000 sq.ft facility in Dearborn, Michigan to become its new Advanced Electrification Centre.
So the Focus Electric is the lead-in model for a growing electrified range, matching the models available in North America. This will include the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid that is bound for left-hand drive markets only, and a petrol-electric Mondeo hybrid with a target of sub-99g/km CO2 emissions. The latter two are considered to be more market-relevant in Europe, for now at least, than a pure electric car.
But the niche Focus volumes are a real shame, because this is an incredibly well-polished vehicle that most short-distance drivers would have absolutely no problems adapting to. Under the bonnet is a 140bhp electric motor, capable of 85mph, while a lithium-ion battery under the rear bench offers a range of up to 100 miles. Charging takes up to 11 hours, but with the Schneider-supplied 32A wallbox the battery can be topped up in around a third of that time
Silence and the lack of gearchanges aside, it offers an entirely conventional driving experience, accelerating smoothly and swiftly, with no perceptible noise from the electric motor at low speeds, whilst seeming to handle as well as the familiar petrol or diesel models.
This is also true visually. Ford has equipped it with the new front end and there’s a charging port on the nearside front wing. It’s similarly conventional inside, too, with a familiar automatic gearstick and no sacrifice in boot or cabin space.
The biggest visual clue is the completely redesigned digital dashboard display. This features a central speedometer with screens either side showing battery capacity, charging status and information about how efficiently the car is being driven. For every kilometre the driver adds to the range of the battery, an animated butterfly appears to the right of the speedo.
Ford expects almost all UK cars to be sold to London-based fleets, mainly joined onto large orders for petrol and diesel versions. Those lucky few will find it’s a real asset.
Practical and great to drive, the Focus Electric is one of the most polished EVs in the UK. But against competitive low-carbon ICE models, it’s a package few drivers will get to try.
Segment: Lower Medium
Type: Battery-electric vehicle
Electric range: 100miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km
Charging Port: Type 2