It seems Ford is turning greener by the second. Not only has it announced that its first ever zero emission all electric passenger car will be available in Europe and the US by 2013, but it will be produced for the US market at its Michigan plant, itself part powered using one of the largest solar energy generators in the western world.
This is all good news of course. Even better news for those critics of electric power, is that this new car will have a top speed of 84 mph and countering one of the biggest drawbacks on electric vehicles – the 10 hour charge – a much reduced charging time of around 3-4 hours.
Until battery technology improves, extending the range between charges (it’s currently around 130 miles) interest in electric cars will remain with technology enthusiasts and conservationists. There is however a marked improvement in the number of UK public charging points (which can cost around £120 for annual use, although some boroughs offer them free), so, long distance driving is certainly becoming a reality.
The stylish 5 door hatchback Focus Electric we are assured, will ‘lose none of the dynamics and quality of driving a fuel driven car’ and it will contain one or two very clever tricks too, including off board remote access via Ford’s mobile app. So, you can check on your car’s charging status while making a cup of tea, pre set air conditioning so the car is nice and cool in summer when you first get in and snug and warm in winter and even remotely start the car and unlock the doors. The 15 spoke 17 inch alloys and nine speaker satellite radio and voice activated navigation system will appease those who pour scorn on EV’s as being dull and unstylish.
Another menace of electric cars is the loss of battery life in extreme weather conditions. This too had been addressed, with an active liquid cooling system that regulates the battery temperature, so on hot days the battery is cooled and warmed on cold days. The result is a much more consistent charge life which will make it a lot easier to drive between charging points. You also get some lovely electronic blue butterflies in your cluster display to represent your surplus range, so the more butterflies there are, the greater the range you have left. Combine these lovely creatures with the My Touch navigation system where you will be told where the nearest charging station is on your route and your bases are pretty much all covered.
So hopefully, no more electric driving at 10 miles an hour with the heater and radio turned off in order to reach your next charging point then. We live in hope.
By Andy Mossack