2013 Ford Focus Electric Test Drive

2013 Ford Focus Electric - green
When I heard that Ford was bringing their 2013 Ford Focus Electric to offer test drives at the Maryland Volt/EV Meetup, I was eager to see if the car had improved from when I drove it several years ago when it was still in development. After a spin around FedExField in the new Focus EV, I think Ford has definitely upped their game.

I had test driven a very early pre-production version of the Ford Focus Electric when they brought it to the Newseum in Washington, DC in October, 2010.  I didn’t have a very high opinion of the car back then. It was very sluggish and unresponsive to the accelerator. That early vehicle also had bad handling due to the odd weight distribution of the battery pack. The power steering, or lack thereof, made it hard to turn. The performance of the pre-production Focus Electric just didn’t live up to my expectations. EVs should have great acceleration and torque but that early development vehicle just didn’t have it.

So how does the production version of the 2013 Ford Focus Electric compare to my disappointing earlier drive? The quick answer is: night and day.  Ford has really turned this vehicle around. They have managed to put the excitement expected of an EV into the Focus Electric!

The steering is buttery smooth. The accelerator response is exactly what you want, there is no delay or “play” in the pedal. The Focus has enough room for a family and the body is the same proven design as the gas-powered Focus. The instrument cluster may not be the most detailed, but it does give you all the necessary information an EV driver needs in an easy-to see-format.

The 2013 Focus Electric has an EPA range of 76 miles from its 23 kWh battery pack. Extra nice is that the on-board charger is actually 6.6 kWh and can charge the vehicle in about 3.5 hours from a 240-volt charging station.

The braking is sharp and powerful.  Good brakes are definitely needed because the 2013 Focus has acceleration that will push you back into your seat. I was very surprised when the wheels actually broke loose and squealed as I was pulling out the parking lot. Ford has also improved the weight distribution and handling. I believe it is now longer than the pre-production version I drove earlier and that may account for what I feel is better battery weight distribution.

Ford still has a long way to go to get the same handling as the Tesla Model S which at this moment is the EV to beat (in my opinion). Ford is at a disadvantage because the Focus is actually a conversion electric vehicle, what I mean by that is that the Focus EV is the same exact vehicle as the gas vehicle minus the gas components and an EV conversion kit squeezed into the existing vehicle.  This makes the Focus Electric cheaper and easier to obtain for the typical consumer but it lacks the engineering of the ground up Tesla Model S. With that in mind, the Ford Focus EV is probably the best EV conversion on the market right now.

Eric Cardwell, Vice President

8 thoughts on “2013 Ford Focus Electric Test Drive

  1. As a Volt owner and driver I was interested to test-drive the Ford Focus Electric. I found it zippy and a pleasure to drive. The only negative I found was that the trunk room was very much limited by the placement of the batteries.

  2. Nice post, Eric. I wish I could have made it to the event. I do like the look inside and out in the FFEV as compared to my Leaf. Let’s hope Ford is in this for the long haul. It’s great to see another OEM making a pure EV.

  3. Nice review. It’s really a nice car, and more like a car than an EV. What does that mean? I think to appeal to traditional ICE owners, they tried hard to make the Focus EV more like a regular car. I like all the bells and whistles on the Volt, which gives it some character, like the touch controls and color console options, like white, which is very unique. It should be interesting to see how the general public reacts to the EV when it is more widely available. Of course there will be some challenges with the price, but now the public at least has more options for a pure EV. This baby was running for about 2-2.5 hours with full a/c on, it it appeared to do very well.

  4. Really appreciate Kristin and Ford letting us drive. First off – great car – puts all EV makers on notice if Ford produces these in quantity.

    I own a Leaf – which I love – so I’ll contrast with it. To be honest I don’t see the Focus competing with the Tesla head on as those are pretty different price ranges. On the other hand it may convince someone considering the base S that there is another more reasonable alternative with style.

    Console – Focus by a nose. While we didn’t get up quite the metered display I enjoy in the Leaf, there was a choice of reconfiguring displays nicely integrated into the instrument cluster. I prefer that to the ‘center square’ nav/energy display on the Leaf and others. Also looks at first glance very normal so not as off putting to a converted ICE driver.

    Passenger Room – Leaf by a nose. Still I was impressed at 6 foot that I ,and even taller testers, were comfortable in the Focus. More then adequate for me though. Did not test the passenger area – again adequate but a little smaller. A couple of the even taller fellows may want to weigh in.

    Styling – Focus by a head. Here trading a little head room gives a nice low slung styling the Leaf can’t hope to match. Sweet paint job and front grille. Cool ‘state of charge’ glow ring around the charge cap. Everyone liked that. Kind of European in look.

    Acceleration and handling off the line. I think this is still the Leaf by a nose. Still the Focus has the similar instant giddyup we have come to love from our electrics. Very peppy, low center of gravity, handled very well. Did not take it out on the bigger stretch so can’t comment at higher speed. The ‘fun’ factor most of our electrics share is definitely there. Steering was responsive. Now the autocross will have to get run to determine a king of the hill – is it subjective that I think the Leaf is ahead? Only one way to tell – let the games begin!

    Charging – Focus by a body length. 6.6kw is what Nissan should have put in the Leaf. Will it be there in 2013? Will it cost extra? For the moment this easily goes to the Ford Focus.

    Trunk space – The Leaf by a head. Clearly part of the batteries and support electronics in the Focus have taken up the lower trunk area.

    Range and efficiency – looks like a wash for the moment until we get better real world data.

    Cooling. Head and Shoulders Focus. I dont have any info on electric load to heat and cool the cabin – that could be important to find out. However liquid cooling for batteries should favor the Focus especially in Southern States. Some Phoenix Leaf owners are already having battery issues only a year in and it appears soaking in 110-114 F and higher is not working well with air cooled batteries in the Leaf. Kind of frightening even for a Marylander as we’ve had a couple 105 days and with climate change more to come. Advantage Focus.

    Price – Close. A little higher (2-3k) then the Leaf – until we see how dealers charge for these we really can’t tell. I would say like the Leaf they are definitely an alternative to Tesla for the budget minded – if one is will to give up the ‘Star Trek’ level features of the Tesla.

    Manufacture – Focus by a nose. Nissan is opening the Smyrna, TN plant to their credit and making Leafs and batteries there. Ford however is the US automaker and that will undoubtably bring many looking for a US buy.

    So my conclusion – I may keep my Leaf but I hope Nissan takes notice and steps up to the plate. If I was a younger buck the Focus styling would be the kicker – a very pretty car. A Mustang of EV’s perhaps?

    Thanks again for the test ride.

    Dave Glotfelty

  5. One day we will be driving an all battery car where we can drive the historic route 66 to California on two charges and 1 gallon of fuel to keep the batteries charged up. Then the oil executives will have to drop oil prices to 25 USD like it was when many of us owned a 68 nova

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