Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Electric Ford Focus car due late next year

Ford, Microsoft plan system to recharge electric cars at least cost
Ford and Microsoft say they are going to roll out a system that will tell electric car owners the optimal time to recharge their vehicles. The system was announced at the New York Auto Show.

The "Microsoft Hohm" system would start with the all-electric Ford Focus compact car, which goes on sale late next year, says Ford CEO Alan Mulally and via a remote presentation, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. [...]

The rest is about the recharging system, but this is the first I've heard about the Electric Focus. The focus is a good car, we have one. I was hoping they might make a hybrid Focus, but this one seems to be entirely electric.

More here:

Electric Ford Focus in 2011: What it Means
As we reported yesterday, we now know that Ford has made official its plans to build an electric Ford Focus in 2011. Perhaps most notable is that Ford could be the first automaker in the U.S. to mass-market a pure battery-electric passenger car — and a "real" one, meaning a compact car rather than the type of small commuter cars Toyota has planned for 2012 and Mitsubishi is investigating for compliance with U.S. regulations. Nor is it a $100,000 limited-run sports car like the one being sold by Tesla. [...]

Test Driving the Electric Ford Focus
[...] The Focus will hit the market in 2011 followed the next year by a plug-in electric Escape sport-utility vehicle, which Ford also showed off in San Francisco. Ms. Gioia said she expects electric and plug-in hybrids will account for 10 to 25 percent of the market by 2020.


As I drove a blue prototype around the streets of San Francisco, I was hard-pressed to distinguish the car from one I recently rented at an airport. It was quiet, of course, but that burst of acceleration you get from punching the accelerator of an electric car has been moderated.

The Ford executive sitting shotgun told me that software limits the amount of power instantaneously transferred to the wheels so that the car will perform more like its gasoline-powered cousin.

The production electric Focus, which will be powered by lithium ion battery packs, will be based on the more stylish European version of the car. The Focus will have a range of about 100 miles and a top speed of around 90 miles an hour.

Ford has not announced a price for the car.

It sounds great. But I have to wonder, how "green" is it? I mean, how much electricity does it take to charge it up, and how long does it last, compared to an equal amount of power from a gasoline engine providing the same power? The electric car may not pollute as it operates, but the power plant supplying the power is creating pollution to create that electricity. If they amount of pollution created to charge the car is greater than the amount a gas powered engine would produce, then it should be worse, from a green standpoint.

I've heard conflicting opinions about this, about it being worse or better. I would be nice to see some solid, unbiased data on the topic. If it's worse or the same pollution as gas, then this is all just "feel-good" nonsense. I'd like to know the truth about it.

No doubt if the power source providing the electricity is a "green" source, that would change things. But such sources are not common yet. If it's a nuclear source, then you have to consider the definition of "pollution". It's not air pollution, and 80% of nuclear waste is treatable, but what about the other 20%, and what's the ratio of waste to energy production? And can that 20% waste be rendered harmless with future technology?

I'm sure people will be arguing about these things for years to come. Welcome to our Brave New World.

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