New data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is giving Ford the chance to tout its 2012 Focus Electric as the most fuel-efficient five-passenger car in America. The claim is based on the vehicle’s fuel-economy ratings of 110 mpge in the city, 99 on the highway and 105 mpge combined.

And what, you might be wondering, is this mpge thing? Mpge means “miles per gallon equivalent.” It represents the number of miles a vehicle can go using a quantity of fuel with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline. Gasoline offers energy equal to about 34 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, so the EPA is saying that in city driving the 2012 Ford Focus Electric will go 105 miles on 34 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Got it?

Ford Focus Electric, mpge
image via Ford

This is 6 mpge more than the Nissan Leaf, a difference that might not matter much to most people in practice, but does give Ford a leg up on marketing its vehicle.

And it is apparent that the Focus Electric is intended to compete directly with the Nissan Leaf. It is a similar type of car in a very small but growing market, and Ford made some comparisons between their Focus and the Leaf, such as:

  • The Focus Electric charges in nearly half the time of the Leaf due to a faster charging system.
  • Greater efficiency.
  • More powerful motor.
  • More passenger room.
  • A driving-range-per-charge that is 3 miles longer than the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf’s range is 73 miles per charge and the Focus Electric is 76 miles. Taking advantage of fuel-efficient driving habits, the Focus Electric can drive 100 miles per charge. (This arouses a thought: Isn’t it time that people are taught to utilize more fuel efficient driving habits? They do significantly affect fuel economy and everyone could benefit, regardless of the type of vehicle they drive.)

According to Ford, the Focus Electric can be fully charged in four hours using a 240-volt pipe. This means that it can be fully charged every night before you go to work in the morning and you could drive 76 miles every day.

The lithium-ion battery bank (battery pack) has an eight-year (or) 100,000-mile warranty. Another little convenience is that the charging port is on the driver’s side, so the driver does not have to stretch across the cabin of the vehicle to pay the charging station attendant, if any, and the attendant will not have to walk around to them either.

By the way, you might have noticed that the Focus Electric is more fuel efficient during stop-and-go city driving than it is on the highway, which is the inverse of the case with gasoline powered vehicles. Gasoline powered vehicles waste gas when idling during traffic congestion, burn more power in accelerating from a stop and generally operating more efficiently at relatively high speeds. Many of these factors don’t apply to electric vehicles, and the Focus Electric use regenerative braking to recover energy and use it to power the car.