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

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

Bar graphing down the road

Ok, headline writer I’m not! LOL

The Focus Electric had an interesting bar graph display:

This would show you how well you’re driving in specific intervals (5, 10, or 15 minutes). The display lived within the “MyView” section on the left dash display. This meant that you had to select that display or another–there was no real way to show other displays along with it. Note that on the FFE the MyView is split into two small displays. In the above image the bar graph consists of one configurable area, and the Climate/Other display is in another configurable area…so you did have some options.

I liked this display because it would give me a short history of how I was driving in a glance, but it really didn’t have all the details I wanted so I would frequently have a different display up:

The information dense display here is the column with the Wh/mi x 100 inside it. This shows: instant power consumption (the white line at the top), average power consumption (the two white tick marks), and power required for the current “budget” (blue “cup”).

Now, on the C-Max Energi, I get the best of both worlds. Here is how I’ve had the C-Max’s dash board setup:

Note the bar graph display on the right–a similar bar graph that the FFE would show on the left. Now I can have both the bar graph displayed, and the information dense display on the left (on the FFE I’d leave the right screen set on navigation which would show a compass, the name and speed limit of the current street–the C-Max has the same display available but I found I didn’t use it that much).

On the bar graph display at right: The far left bar (one with the 0, 40, 60, 100 scale) shows the instant miles/gal, the 5 bars show the history in 10 minute intervals (configurable), and the line shows the current average mpg.

The left has a really busy display showing power from the gas engine, electric motor, climate consumption, and “other” (typically other is the defroster, radio, seat heat, etc.). Its fun to watch the gas/electric graphs bounce around as you drive and the car switches between the two. In addition there is an arrow above or below the battery showing when the battery is being discharged or charged (below the battery is an icon showing which mode the car is currently in–EV later in this case).

After all this reading you’re probably thinking: Hey keep your eyes on the road! Yeah, I know: driving either car around is like driving a video game! LOL Once you get used to the displays only a quick glance down at the dash is all that is needed to ascertain your current status; even though its busy you do get used to it and can scrape the information you’re looking for very quickly.

 

Bar graphing down the road

Goodbye FFE…

I’m sad to report that I turned in my FFE today. This doesn’t mean the end of the blog, however, as I did get a new car with a plug as well (more on that in a sec).

Things I loved about the FFE:

  • The quiet ride
  • The looks (probably the sportiest little EV available)
  • The technology (many people knock My Ford Touch but I really didn’t have much issue with it and the EV features integrated in are very nice)
  • The fact that it is a stealth EV. In the entire time I had it only about 3 people noticed that it was an EV and said something (all of the comments were positive)
  • Being able to charge at home. Not having to stop somewhere to “fill up” is huge–we would rarely take it somewhere beyond its range and thus I didn’t have a need to use public charging very often (I think I have about 10 entries in my Chargepoint account history).

Things I didn’t like about the FFE:

  • Winter
  • The heater
  • The lack of a fast charge–sort of
  • Not towable

Note the first two items here as they are related: In the winter the heater uses up more electricity than the motor on the FFE. Thus in the winter I would get 40-50 miles out of the car when using the heat. These two items (and the last) are the major reasons I did not lease another FFE.

That last item is kind of important to us as well. When we first leased the FFE we used a 5th wheel pulled by a pickup. Thus when we went camping we’d just use the pickup to get around. Over the course of the FFE lease we traded in the 5th wheel & pickup on a motorhome. Now we tow a vehicle for use. Look in the FFE’s owners manual: can’t tow it–pretty much at all.

Instead I opted to lease a C-Max Energi. Sure it seems like a step backward given its ~20 mile EV range vs the 70 rated miles on the FFE. In addition I will occasionally have to frequent gas stations again (that doesn’t matter much as our RV holds 55 gallons of gas which kind of negates all the EV driving I do! LOL). I figure that in the winter I’ll have to use the gas engine for one of the legs on my commute (probably the commute into work as that is when its coldest and I’ll welcome the engine’s heat). In addition, the C-Max can be flat towed (4 wheels down). Hopefully when this lease is up Ford will have a more compelling choice for an EV other than a 100 mile FFE!

The reason I stuck with a Ford is mentioned in the about link on the blog: I used to work there, and have family that still does–can’t beat the employee discount.

Since this is a 2016 C-Max Energi it comes with the new Sync 3 system. Look in the future for some posts on how to use that (much like all the My Ford Touch posts I did for the FFE).

Goodbye FFE…