Over the past two years, the affordable electric car market has become a lot more interesting. The arrival of the Kia Soul EV in 2015 was followed by a Nissan Leaf with a bigger, better battery pack a year later. 2017 will also see the arrival of the Chevrolet Bolt, which claims an EPA-rated driving range of nearly 400 kilometres. While Ford doesn't yet have any big and bold claims for a long-distance electric vehicle, it has given its Focus Electric a bit of a boost.
For 2017, the Focus Electric gets a new battery pack that's more energy dense than last year's model. At 33.5 kWh, it's a sizeable step up from the 23.0 kWh pack in use since the car's launch. It's a bigger battery pack than the Nissan Leaf (30 kWh) or the Kia Soul EV (27 kWh), yet it's not as efficient. According to the U.S. EPA, the Focus's electric range tops out at 161 km, some 11 km less than the Leaf. This is a big improvement over the outgoing setup which had a range of just 122 km.
In addition to more juice, the Focus Electric will also recharge more quickly thanks to a new standard DC fast charge port, which will charge the battery from empty to 80% in less than half an hour, making it more convenient to drive longer distances. Otherwise, charging via a 240-volt will take 5.5 hours, and 30 via a standard household outlet.
Other additions for 2017 include a new charge port door design with hidden LED charge indicator lights, a new braking coach that trains drivers to slow down in a more energy-efficient manner to recapture electrons, and, a new colour: White Gold.
The Focus is powered by a 107 kW electric motor that produces 143 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque and drives the front wheels through a single-speed direct-drive transmission.
As with its rivals, the Focus Electric feels fleet-footed off the line, but benefits from sharp handling, and a ride that’s smoother and more absorbent than the similarly priced Kia and Nissan. The overall driving experience is very much like the standard Focus Hatchback, but with less engine noise. Those hoping for plenty of cargo space because of the hatchback design may be disappointed to note that a considerable amount of the trunk area is consumed by the battery pack.
All Focus Electrics come with the latest version of the Sync3 infotainment system which includes a standard reverse camera, Bluetooth, USB, and integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Drivers also face a unique instrument cluster arrangement with dual reconfigurable displays that can track and show a wide array of information from consumption to economy and energy figures.
The only real option of note is leather upholstery, which adds $1,000 to the bottom line and adds eight-way driver power adjustment with lumbar support.
The Focus Electric sells for $31,998 before tax credits.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed