We recently test drove the new Ford Focus Electric in San Francisco and we were mostly impressed. But while we stepped away from the car satisfied, we got to thinking - we were not only driving on relatively slow California highways, but we were able to easily find a quick charging station at our destination before heading back home. So what would happen if we test drove the Ford Focus Electric far away from quick charging stations, on high-speed roads? Could the Ford Focus Electric stand up to that challenge without inducing range anxiety? We set out to see if it could.
We knew that the Ford Focus Electric was likely to do well driving in the city where regenerative braking could replenish the battery and slow speeds put low demands on the car. But the real test was how the car would fare at highway speeds. Most electric cars lose range very quickly at speeds over 65 miles per hour, and unfortunately the Focus Electric was no exception. We got on the highway with fingers crossed, and sure enough, we started losing 1 mile of estimated range for every .2 miles traveled. However, this is actually a bit better than our test drive of the Mitsubishi i electric car, which lost 1 mile of range for every .1 miles traveled. Talk about nerve-wracking!
We had planned a trip of nearly 60 miles, and we lost so much range on the highway on the first leg of the trip that we were forced to take surface streets home in order to stretch our range to get us all the way back. This was disappointing. This also convinced us that this car would not work for road trips, even with quick chargers available. While there are quick chargers starting to pop up across the country, a 65-mile total range doesn’t go far enough when you’re traveling at high speeds over long periods of time.
The Ford Focus Electric did however accelerate extremely well, and never lost large amounts of range for the type of acceleration we needed to get into traffic — a refreshing change from other electric cars we have driven.
As we mentioned in our previous test drive of the Ford Focus Electric, a quick charger can juice up the Focus Electric in a few hours. If you plug it in to a standard household outlet it can take 18-20 hours to fully charge the vehicle, so if you own one of these you will definitely want a quick charger at home. However, we discovered that we got nearly a full charge with 13 hours of overnight charging, so the situation is not as bad as it initially sounds. So, in the end, we decided that the Ford Focus Electric managed its range better than any other fully electric cars we have driven, which is saying something.
The Focus isn’t the car that will change the game and get all Americans buying electric — electric cars need to travel farther at high speeds, and charge faster at a public network of charging ports in order for that to happen. But we were hard on the Ford Focus Electric; we drove its full range on a daily basis on high-speed roads, like many Americans who commute. All in all, the Ford Focus Electric is still far and above the best electric car we have driven in terms of drivability and performance for the average consumer.