Old news is new news

 

Today Ford has been busy reiterating their commitment the electrified vehicles. Today on various social media platforms:

The funny thing about these posts: Many of the people replying to these posts have thought that they are in response to actions of the current administration. They don’t realize that Ford announced this direction over a six months ago now…long before the election (when everyone thought that it would be a different type of presidency).

 

Old news is new news

Focus Electric Fire sale

Hat tip to the Focus Electric Forums: Due to the 2017 FFE having >100 miles of range, the 2016 FFE will be pretty hard to sell. If you look nationwide on Auto Trader you find that there are a bunch of dealers offering them for less than $20,000. Combine that with the Federal rebate of $7500 and you could get a brand new electric car for around $12,000 (mind you a car that, less than four years ago, was selling for $37,000!). (Keep in mind, that if you buy the car, the Federal rebate comes off of your income taxes–you don’t get that as cash back at the time of sale. In addition, if your tax liability is less than $7500 you won’t get the full value. If you lease the car, however, the rebate goes to the leasing company and many of them pass on the savings in the lease.)

Granted this car comes with some caveats, but if you fit the profile it may be worth it.

The big thing to think about with the car is how far you have to drive and how bad are your winters. Start with your required max distance without charge (MDWC). I’m going to use this figure instead of something like “your commute” because people’s commutes vary wildly and some people may have access to charging at work. Thus your MDWC is a given distance in a day that you can be expected to go without having access to a charger.

The second factor to consider is your weather, specifically your winters (a secondary consideration is how hot it gets in the summer, but the FFE’s battery is actively cooled and cooling costs far far less in terms of battery range than heat does so we can neglect high temps to some degree here). If you have really mild winters (say you’re in Atlanta, or Dallas) you won’t have to worry about the lack of range in the cold. On the other hand if you’re a bit further North: Portland, ME, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc. you’ll have to consider that in your “can I use this car” calculations.

Time for some examples: I’ll start with my experience:

My MDWC was 30 miles (couldn’t charge at work, 30 miles is my round-trip commute), living in Detroit I had to be prepared for really cold winters. Frequently when the temps were

I can also use a coworker’s data: his MDWC was 50 miles. He determined the FFE would work–but just barely.

Now lets say someone is in Dallas and has a MDWC of 50 miles. In this case 50 miles really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, except for those rare days where its freezing or below.

The rule of thumb is: Determine how much heat you have to use. If you can get away without using any heat then your MDWC can be as high as 60 miles (or more). If you use marginal heat (the coolest temps your car will see are above 50F) then your MDWC can be as high as about 50 miles. If your coolest temps drop lower then that then your MDWC will also drop. When you get to temps freezing and below your realistic MDWC will drop to about 30-40 miles.

In addition, if you don’t already have a Level 2 EVSE, you’ll have to consider that as well. The FFE will take close to 20 hours to charge an empty battery on a normal 120V house plug. A Level 2 EVSE uses a 240V line (like a dryer, or electric range plug) and can charge up the FFE in as little as 3.5 hours. Prices for a Level 2 EVSE start around $500 or so and go up, and you have to add in any extra electrical work that may be required. You may be thinking that even 3.5 hours is a long time. Remember that is an empty battery. In my case, with my Level 2 I could put enough range back into the FFE to be usable while I cooked dinner.

If you’ve read this far and determine: YEAH! A FFE would be a great car for me, and I love those prices. Don’t be discouraged if the nearest dealer is 500, 1000, or even 2000 miles away. At those prices an extra $500 is worth it to get the car shipped to you.

I would imagine that you’d want to act fast on these if you are even thinking about it since at these prices the limited inventory of 2016 FFE’s won’t last long.

Focus Electric Fire sale

Hey it only took a year

When I first picked up the C-Max I immediately setup a charge profile for home. For some reason, though, it didn’t work the way I had expected. My experience with the Focus Electric was quite positive with respect to the charge profiles–once I had set them up they pretty much worked 99% of the time. The C-Max was different, and after a couple of weeks I finally gave up and deleted my charge locations. I even have at least one post about this.

I’ve been using the method I described in that post ever since. Fast forward to now. Ford has been working on a software update for Sync 3 that includes Android Auto and Apple Car play. This update has been shipping on 2017 model year cars for a while now; its just been taking Ford a while to get the update for the 2016s working/released. Not too long ago a version of this update leaked (really!?). After a few weeks I figured “what the heck I’ll give it a shot”. The update process went pretty smoothly (it is Ford software, not some hack). Android Auto is pretty cool–perhaps that will deserve a post of its own.

With the new software installed I figured I’d play with value charge and charge locations again. Thus I re-setup my home location with a charge window slightly different from the one I setup for the default location. For the next few days when approaching home I would put the radio on the charge setup screen so I could watch which profile it chose to use. This was very enlightening. Turns out something that I had suspected in my post (linked above) is true: On the C-Max the charge now/value charge setting is global. On the Focus Electric that setting was tied to each charge location (so the default charge location could be set to charge now and your home location could be set to value charge). (I also suspect the older software worked this way as well, just my thick head couldn’t figure it out! LOL) Thus now I can leave the default profile set to charge 24/7 and home to the window I want and it should work. On the my ford mobile website, however, it shows the charge now/value charge setting like it is on the Focus; separate:

The really goofy thing about this is that with the setting global it makes it even easier to put the quick flip on the dashboard like the Focus Electric does. The new version of Sync 3 does reduce that change to three clicks from four though.

Hey it only took a year

A year of C-Max

One year down, two to go–at least for the C-Max lease. It took a while but I’m now pretty used to the gas engine kicking in. I find I’m using gas more with colder weather to keep the car warm (in summer the trip meter would hover around 100mpg, in the colder months its more like 50mpg).

The car seems to have a similar quirk to the FFE: If you don’t start it quite right it doesn’t like it. In this case I’ve seen a few times where I didn’t start it and it thought it was only a hybrid (wouldn’t let me select EV Now, or EV Later modes). Turning off the car, opening in a door, and restarting easily clears that condition.Strange not being able to select a mode even when the dash is showing a full battery.

EV only range on the C-Max goes from a pitiful 13 miles or so (cold weather, using climate control) to about 28 miles (80s, no climate or minimal A/C). I would much prefer the car to have a solid 50 miles of summer range. 50 miles would be perfect for my commute–even in winter–it could reduce my gas consumption to virtually zero.

It sits taller than a Focus–more like the dimensions of an Escape (my wife drives a 2014 Escape and we park them next to each other in the garage; they are very similar in size and shape). This means that ingress and egress are much easier than the Focus as there is more room and you don’t have to lower/raise yourself to/from seat level. This alone makes the C-Max a bit more livable than the Focus.

Still, though, I’d give some of that up for a bit more EV range, or a full BEV. Reading many of the EV sites you get the feeling that people just love their EVs and would prefer to have a BEV than a PHEV… I would tend to agree with that. Now if Ford would only release their 300 mile EV SUV in Jaunary of 2019 ;).

 

A year of C-Max

Wow, Found it

Now this is interesting: On the Focus Electric forums people had mentioned that they googled their old FFE’s VIN to see what happened to it after they turned it in at lease end. Granted its been a whole year since I turned my FFE in so I didn’t expect much (or even to find it). Imagine my surprise when I find it in Indiana!

That is from a “find Ford cars” website. It doesn’t appear on that Ford dealer’s pre-owned inventory list thus I suspect someone has already purchased it. I wonder if they paid the $11,000 asking price or bargained for less.

I’ve googled previous cars before but never found the exact one I had, this is kind of interesting and bittersweet–I miss the little fella.

 

Wow, Found it

Feature request for Ford’s 300 mile SUV

Now that Ford is making a 300 mile SUV BEV here is a feature that I think would go a long way in making the battery last longer.

For the batteries in today’s EVs one of the killers is the number of cycles, and how long the battery is held at full charge (to alleviate the full charge problem many manufacturers really only charge the battery up to about 90%). On the Focus Electric (FFE) Ford also introduced “Value Charging”. Setup by location this feature allows the owner to basically set what time the car gets charged. Many FFE owners (including myself) used this feature so that the FFE would start charging early in the morning (in my case around 3:00 am or so) so that it was just fully charged when the preconditioning started (and just prior to leaving). On the FFE this was necessary because having only about 70 miles of range it needed to be charged up daily.

On an EV with 300 miles of range it may not be necessary to charge daily–in fact it is better for the battery if it only gets charged to full every 2nd or 3rd day (fewer cycles, and it isn’t held to a full charge for as long).

To solve this issue Ford should introduce a “minimum charge” setting to the value charge feature. This is an extra setting in addition to the charge window (e.g. charge from 3am – 9am). In fact the value charge feature could be tweaked slightly with a target time along with the minimum charge value.

Here is how it would work: Lets say you leave home to go to work every weekday around 7:00 am and your round-trip commute is 50 miles. You could set your home value charge settings to: 6:45am target time and a 33% minimum charge (33% battery = 100 miles or double your commute–giving you some extra driving miles).

This is what the car would do: If the current charge of the battery is above the minimum charge (say its at 45%) then the car would do nothing when plugged in (and if you have precondition set it would use the power from the EVSE for that). If, however, the car’s battery charge is less than the 33% minimum charge then it would charge the car during the value charge window (thus if the value charge window is 11:00pm to 6:45am it would charge the entire time). This would ensure that the car’s charge is above the minimum value set at the target time. It would also ensure that the car isn’t held at a full charge that often (there is no way a level 2 EVSE can charge to full a 300 mile EV in 8 hours).

Lets look at a few days: Suppose the car sat over the weekend and charged to full (since the value charge for Saturday and Sunday just says “charge away”).

  • No charging overnight Sunday-Monday
  • No charging overnight Monday-Tuesday as the car is at 75%
  • No charging overnight Tuesday-Wednesday as the car is at 45% (you did some extra driving around)
  • Charges overnight Wednesday-Thursday as the car was at 28%, but since it only charged for about 8 hours it only brought the battery up to ~60%
  • No charging overnight Thursday-Friday as the car was 35%

Ford should also keep the easy flip between Value Charge and Charge Now that the FFE has–that was really handy (my C-Max doesn’t have it and its a pain). The quick flip: When you turned off the FFE the right display would show a menu for a few seconds allowing you to flip the current charge location from Value Charge to Charge Now or back with a simple two button press (to do this in the C-Max requires a multi-step process on the center screen before shutting off).

As you can see above in the example this feature would reduce the number of weekly charge cycles from daily (7 or more) down to two or three and effectively manage the charge state of the battery automatically; all the owner would have to do is plug in every time they got home.  Easy peasy 😉

Feature request for Ford’s 300 mile SUV

New Ford EVs??

What is this:

Hmm Who are you Ford and what happened to you??

Interesting…

Wireless charging too; wow.

A hybrid Mustang, a BEV SUV!? Someone has been smoking there at Ford! LOL

I’m anxiously awaiting these new Ford developments….

Update: A news article on the press conference:

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/ford/2017/01/03/ford-invests-700m-mich-cancels-plan-mexico-plant/96102276/

Update 2: Another article with details about the EVs: (not much more than the article above, however)
http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/ford/2017/01/03/here-details-fords-electric-vehicle-plan/96109758/?hootPostID=8baf17aadccc1ed5f9401fd918d469ad

New Ford EVs??