EVADC Outpost in Phoenix by Mindy Kimball

Mindy’s electrified Smart in the Phoenix electric light parade.

Hi EVADC! Hope things are well out there! It’s been a little more than a year since I left the energetic orbit of the beltway, and I thought I’d send a short update from my new home in the desert Southwest. Here in Phoenix, we have an abundance of incoming solar radiation, and are just starting to see residents and businesses taking advantage of the energy source. There are over 300 public chargers installed and online in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and a few Level III fast-chargers too! Not all of the public chargers are solar-powered, but many are. Phoenix generally has two power companies, and there is not a “choice” program like we have in most DC locations. You must get power through a single provider, and the only choice you have is to pay extra for a “renewables mix” through that power company. I have chosen to pay for this renewables mix (about 59% solar, 34% wind, 5% biomass/biogas, and 2% geothermal), which ensures that my energy consumption is bought from these renewables (it adds $.004 to my per-kWh electricity price). I also get a special rate from the power company because I own an electric vehicle. Between the hours of 11pm and 5am, I pay only $.06/kWh for the whole house! So, now I set timers to do a lot of stuff at night (laundry, dishwasher, charging my phone, and of course charging my car!).
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Perfect EV Middle Man!

What is the perfect Electric Vehicle middle man? How about the Capital Bikeshare! What do I mean by that? Do you have electric vehicle charging stations at your work? Well if you are some of the lucky few that do that’s awesome, but if you are with the rest of the majority that does not have access to charging at work (such as most federal government employees) you probably feel left out. Did you know that there are already over 100 charging stations inside the Washington D.C. Beltway? There may not be a charging station located right at your work, but there probably is a charging station within a 5 to 10 minute bike ride from your work. Several parking garages in and around the city have electric vehicle charging stations. Ok, so I park at a garage and charge, how do I get to work you may ask?

This is where the perfect EV middle man comes in, Capital Bikeshare! With over 16,070+ bicycles at over 175+ stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, Va, there is more than likely a bike station near an electric vehicle charging station and a bike station near your work. Just park your car, grab a bike to work and drop off the bike and go on your merry way. You can easily return and move your car at lunch time or during a break. Getting fresh air and exercise at the same time while not producing a single particle of emissions!

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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

EVA/DC Members in Maryland Can Get Special Electrified Maryland Plates!

Special organizational license plates have been approved for EVA/DC members who reside in the state of Maryland.

These plates can be used on any car, van or truck, they don’t have to be on an EV. If you are a member who lives in Maryland, contact the EVA/DC treasurer, Scott Wilson, for information on obtaining these plates. If you are not a member, you can join EVA/DC today!