It began in a Ford conference room during the final days of 2008. Having successfully delivered hybrid variations of the Fusion and Escape, Ford now had the technology and background to take the next logical step—an all-electric vehicle.
At that time, however, the rule book had yet to be written. “There were no competitor products,” says powertrain engineering team leader Steve Daleiden. And that led to a very big initial question: “What does an electric vehicle (EV) need to do in order to satisfy the future customer? The definition of a successful EV really didn’t exist.”
Although Daleiden and his team didn’t have a road map for their all-electric journey, experience with hybrid electric vehicles supplied a wealth of knowledge to lean on. “We found that people who buy hybrids love premium content,” he says. “They want technology in the car, and they want gadgets that are different for that car. We decided that idea had to be applied to the Focus Electric as well.”
The Focus Electric instrument panel looks cool, but the car’s true technological trophy is stowed away underneath its trunk: an active liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery. “The battery was one of the biggest breakthroughs of this project,” says Focus Electric program manager Stefan Pototschnik.
Because extreme temperatures affect battery life, a new system was designed to keep the batteries at just the right level. On hot days, chilled water absorbs heat from the battery, and on cold days, heated water raises battery temperature.
As a result, Focus Electric operates efficiently in a range of temperatures, something that Daleiden cites as critical not just to battery performance but also to battery life. “The one thing you don’t want this battery to do is fail on the customer. Ideally, you’re not going to have to replace the battery during the life of the vehicle,” he says.
Read the rest of the story and see a video of the new Focus Electric at My Ford Magazine.
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