TEST DRIVE: We Drive the 2013 Ford Focus Electric in San Francisco

by , 08/29/12

Ford, Ford Focus, Ford Focus Electric, electric car, Ford electric car, green transportation, green car, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S, Honda Fit EV, Chevy Volt,EV range anxiety

The Focus Electric shined in so many areas, but was largely let down by its limited driving range. The first day that I received the Focus Electric I drove about ten miles to Oakland, CA to have brunch with the family. I was very excited to see that there was a quick charging station located in the parking lot of a Wallgreens just a few blocks away. After a quick call with a very helpful Ford rep in Detroit I was able to get the charging door open and the charging station’s plug connected. The best part was that the charger was one of the free ones. Who wouldn’t be excited about free “fuel” for their car. An hour later the battery’s expected driving range went from 50 miles to just over 70. Next stop San Jose…

San Jose, CA is about 50 miles south of Oakland. With the battery gauge reading 70 miles I took off. One of the benefits of the Focus Electric’s drivetrain is that the motor has immediate power and the transmission only has one speed, which translates to an unexpected amount of fun that you don’t necessarily get in a hybrid. Given this new found level of fun I drove the Focus Electric like any other car with a bit of power under the hood: hard. Of course that kind of driving will severely suck down the battery. So much so that when I finally reached my friend’s place in San Jose, the battery was nearly empty.

Here comes the first problem with the current state of the electric car segment. The Focus Electric has a plug on board that can be plugged into a regular household outlet, but doing so means that an empty battery will take about 20 hours to recharge. Pretty frustrating considering that I only had a few hours before I needed to head back to San Francisco. But thanks to Ford’s MyFord mobile app I could quickly locate a charging station with a 220 volt outlet that would recharge the Focus Electric much faster. Well San Jose is a suburban area, which mainly consists of residential houses and strip malls. Sadly the closest charging spot was almost five miles away. After convincing a friend to follow me, we slowly made our way over to the charger that would save the day. After the Focus Electric was on life support for three hours, I finally had about 50 miles of range to get me to my next destination.

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  1. penderbruce September 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I saw a Nissan Leaf with a zero emissions badge on it at work last week. I couldn’t find a tailpipe either. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that it didn’t ’emit’ any emissions.
    But I see sconnors point about electricity coming from fossil fuels though…but not ALL electricity comes from fossil fuel. I heard tell of a new-fangled thing called a dam and that one of them got built near Vegas a while ago. It uses water to make electricity.
    I mean, what’ll they think of next…using sunshine or wind to make electricity?

  2. sconnors11 August 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

    It’s not emissions free driving. The electricity comes from fossil burning fuels. That said, the kw/lb co2 efficiency of power providers in California is better than other parts of the country.

    The diesel electric hybrid remains the best alternative for reducing emissions while not sacraficing range. Sadly, diesel engines are not seen as “green”.

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