Ford Fine-Tunes Electric Focus

Ford is looking to release its new electric car, the Focus Electric, for the 2012 model year, but before they do, engineers and would-be consumers are doing some tweaking on the company’s in-dash interactive display to make sure that it is intuitive, easy to use and the messaging is easy to understand.

So far, Ford has invited around 30 drivers to take a special test drive on a simulator. That test drive includes an 11-mile circuit that traverses a variety of terrain that a typical drive would include. Hills, city streets, country roads and flat lands make up the circuit. When stepping into the simulator, a user sees exactly the same information that would appear in the real Ford Focus Electric, including two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking the speedometer in the center. These screens provide details on battery state of charge, distance to charge point, the corresponding budget and expected range surplus.

ford mytouch

image via Ford Motor Company

Once engineers gathered feedback they evaluated how well participants comprehended the gauge concepts and design. According to Ford, this customer feedback has led to improvements in the display.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric can hit a top speed of 84 mph. The car has a total range of up to 100 miles on a single charge. With the 240-volt home charging station, the Focus Electric can reach full charge in about three to four hours. On a standard 120-volt outlet, the Focus Electric will take up to 20 hours to charge. The car is powered by a 100-kilowatt electric motor with a 23-kilowatt-hour battery that produces 123 horsepower. Including the Focus Electric, Ford says they will launch five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013.

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.

    • Anonymous

      “up to 100 milesu00a0”? u00a0Why not “up to 300 miles”? Either way they wouldn’t be lying when you got only 40 miles!u00a0

    • Starting to look like the Command and Control of the Enterprise (Star Trek). But those elusive di-lithium crystals that will give us those 300 miles are still a bit in the future. Just how much electricity is consumed by control and electronics in this car? 20 hours to charge at 120volts? That means you can use the car every other day. How much will your electric bill go up and how much will it cost to purchase the proper charging station?

      • Undergroundtwelve

        It takes 20 hours to charge on a standard outlet, if you were to buy a charging station the time would be cut down significantly.u00a0 Also thats assuming you use the entire charge, they say it will getu00a0100 miles but depending on what the local geography is like and how you drive this will change.u00a0u00a0Increase in your electric bill would largely depend on when you charged.u00a0 Most likely you would charge at night which would mean its during off peak hours for electricity (which in turn means cheaper than charging in the day).u00a0u00a0Obviously your electricu00a0bill will go up, but this needs to be weighed against how much you are saving in gas.u00a0u00a0In the end however, electricu00a0cars are meant for people who want tou00a0have an impact on saving the environment by not burning gasoline and not meant for practicality oru00a0saving a lot of money (though you probably will depending on the price of gas over the next decade or so).u00a0 And thisu00a0of course brings us to the absurd reality thatu00a0though electricity itself does not have a carbon footprint, the coal (most likely) burned to produce itu00a0is probably worse than gasoline.u00a0