By on April 18, 2016

2015 Ford Focus Electric

Ford Motor Company is hitting the brakes in the electric vehicle range war.

While competitors like Tesla and General Motors are busy preparing EVs with ranges of 200 miles or more, Ford is staying put at the 100-mile line, Automotive News has reported.

Though it plays well in the plug-in hybrid game with models like the C-Max and Fusion Energi, the automaker’s only “pure” EV — the Focus Electric — has lingered near the back of the pack in terms of range since debuting in 2012.

For 2017, the Focus Electric’s range grows from 76 miles to 100 miles, but beyond that lies a territory the automaker feels it doesn’t need to enter. The reason lies in the economics of the vehicle itself, as bigger battery packs add weight and cost.

100 miles is good enough for most, said Kevin Layden, Ford’s director of electrification programs and engineering, at last week’s SAE World Congress in Detroit.

“I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population,” Layden told a panel audience. “It’s going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now.”

The 2016 Focus Electric has an MSRP of $29,170 before applicable government incentives, which would drop the price into the low twenty thousands. The Chevrolet Bolt, due out this fall with a range of 200-plus miles, is expected to retail for $30,000 after incentives. Tesla’s Model 3, scheduled for production late next year, will offer a range of 215 miles and a sticker price of $35,000.

By sticking with a commuter (not intercity) range, Ford’s biggest competitor remains the Nissan Leaf, which offers a newly upgraded range of 107 miles on higher trim levels (84 miles for base models) at a higher price than the Focus.

That relationship won’t last forever, as EV-hungry Nissan is planning a 200-mile Leaf for 2018.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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30 Comments on “There’s a (100-Mile) Ford in Your Future, But That’s About It...”

  • avatar

    Nothing new here.

    There will be more serious attempt at an electric Focus in the next generation as they shift it from the Focus label to the Model E which will have three variants – hybrid, energi (hybrid plugin), and all electric. Model E will be significantly different in styling (maybe as ugly as the new Toyoduh Prius? ROFL!). Built on the slightly longer and wider next generation Focus, it will not be a Focus.

    It is refreshing to see an electric vehicle that doesn’t look like an Electric Vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Aside from Nissan, nobody can make a car as ugly as Toyota can. Prius, Mirai, the Lexus predator grille –especially when attached to the LX SUV– they have a real talent for ugliness.

  • avatar

    If you aren’t offering range-extending fossil-fuel powered generators, then you MUST get at least 200 miles in EV RANGE.

    If you do offer range extension and you only offer 100 miles in EV mode, be sure your motors have enough power to ACTUALLY STAY IN EV MODE FOR THAT 100 MILES.

    If you build an EV, make sure that it’s as spacious as a Ford FUSION and make sure it costs less than $50,000 – or you’ve already failed.

    If you build an EV, make sure it looks like a regular car – not some stupid sci-fi movie reject.

    And then you’ve got to deal with your CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE.

    Tesla coined the term “supercharger” which in their lingo means: a charging station free to Tesla owners and in everyone else’s means “a forced induction setup that forces more air into an engine in order to burn more fuel and produce more power.

    i.e. HELLCAT.

    Where exactly will we be charging all these EV?

    Until EV charging stations are more ubiquitous EV will continue to suffer from range anxiety.

    The best solution is the PHEV.

    Put together a battery pack that offers 200 miles or better; can be plugged in and charged in less than 4-7 hours to full capacity and is joined by a gasoline powered range extender which can recharge the battery (to full if necessary) or simply kick in if the EV range decreases significantly.

    Why can’t these IDIOTS at GM just make an EV out of the Malibu and Impala – that costs less than $50,000 – and has a range extender like the volt?


    When I’m in Denver on my all-expense-paid-research study April 30th reviewing prototyped vehicles, you best believe me, I’m gonna give them an EARFUL.

    • 0 avatar

      An entire comment without the word AZERA — this is going to come up in your next ROI review…

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right about the 200 mile EV range being needed. While 100 mile range for me is mostly overkill, 200 mile range would probably totally eliminate any dependence on public charging. Most days, I make it home with 80 to 90 miles range left on the car. the longest trip I typically take by car is to NFL football games and which are a 100 mile round trip. Those days I have to hit one of three CHAdeMO chargers near the stadium for a little extra insurance to make the trip home – especially for January games. A 200 mile range would totally eliminate the need for that charge.

      My other long trip is just over 100 miles to a vacation home two states away. Right now I have to stop midway to boost the car to make to get over the mountains. Again, 200 mile range would eliminate that stop. Another thing, is that just like in a ICE car, you don’t take the vehicle to it’s range limit. I’ve always left some padding.

      There is also an issue in mountainous areas. To get to the top of a pass, you need a little extra buffer. Once at the top, you gain much of what you lost back. For example, for a particular stretch of highway I drive, I charge the car so that I have 100 mile range to go approximately 50 miles. At the top of one of the passes, I’m down to only 23 miles range if I remember correctly. When I finish the trip after descending from that pass, regen brings me back up so that I end the trip with about 48 miles available. This is sort of approximate. I don’t have time at the moment to look up the actual figures, but you get the idea.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This was the same approach used by Nissan for the Leaf 1.0, which I had.

    I’ve come to accept that although short-range EVs really are acceptable for most driving, this logic no longer works.

    Now the focus (heh) among ICE drivers and EV drivers alike is not what your EV IS capable of, but what it is NOT capable of. This criticism applies to any EV.

    EV critics said:

    2012: “it can’t go 100 miles”
    2014: “it can’t go 120 miles”
    2016: “it can’t go 200 miles”

    Sounds like Ford is giving up, even though they’ve quietly been a strong contender in terms of product and sales.

    The question for long-range EVs then revolves around charging infrastructure, and that’s where Tesla shines in the US. There is little point in offering a 200-mile EV if it is on a 100-mile leash.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      “There is little point in offering a 200-mile EV if it is on a 100-mile leash.”
      A 100-mi EV has a 50-mi leash. Not sure what your point is?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        The point is in the sentence which precedes my comment:

        “The question for long-range EVs then revolves around charging infrastructure, and that’s where Tesla shines in the US.”

        EVs are always on a leash unless there is a good charging infrastructure which enables you to travel long-distance. Only Tesla has enough charging infrastructure to permit a 200-mile car to travel across the country, for instance.

  • avatar

    Completely useless facts, but I do love calculations, especially about the (in)utility of solar panels:

    (All numbers approximations of the first order from public sources; assuming some bright, sunny place like California or Arizona.)

    100 MPGe => 32 kWh per 100 miles

    The average car has 60 square feet of surface area. Let’s say that 30 square feet can be covered in high-quality solar panels that are magically resistant to small rocks.

    A high-quality solar panel produces 30 kWh/year/sq ft.

    So, you get one “free” recharge every fortnight..Or you probably could let it sit in the sun all day and squeeze out, say, 10 miles extra to get you just slightly beyond walkable distance from work.

    This does also suggest, if you lived within biking range of your place of work, you probably could run your car at almost no net energy cost after a giant investment in rock-proof solar paneling.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That seems to match what I read about the solar panel that was on my Leaf’s hatch.

      Supposedly it only produced about 5W, which makes it a totally useless but expensive gimmick for the vehicle. Sitting outside in the sun all day would provide it with about 700 feet of ‘free’ travel per day.

  • avatar

    100 miles isn’t enough – as sale numbers demonstrate. That 100 mile range is much less on a cold day (or a very hot day).

    Sounds like Ford is trying to justify what they can make with little effort and investment, given current battery/cost technology.

  • avatar

    At this point, used Leafs (Leaves?) are under $10k. It starts to become economically viable.

    Unfortunately, I have a rental garage, 120VAC only, no hopes for 220VAC.

    The only way I can make a Leaf work is to drive it to work on Monday and Tuesday, plug it in Tuesday night, drive a gas car on Wednesday while the Leaf charges on 120VAC, then drive the Leaf to work on Thursday and Friday.

    Since I can only drive it 4 days a week, now even a $10k Leaf doesn’t make sense.

    • 0 avatar

      How many amps is the 120VAC outlet? You can get a reasonably quick charge on 120VAC if you have an adjustable EVSE that can be cranked up to 20 amps. At one of my work locations, I’m usually to lazy to hike the extra 100 ft to new NEMA 14-50 240 volt outlets. I use a 120VAC 20 amp outlet and have no problem.

      • 0 avatar

        A standard breaker is 15 amps.

        • 0 avatar

          *Some* standard breakers (especially in old load centers) are 15A. 20A is rather the modern standard, there’s little point of wiring a leg under 20A, even if the jurisdiction allows it.

          The 15A used 14ga wires. Many munis no longer allow 14ga on a run, at all. All circuits must be (at least) 12ga solid copper. 12ga is good for 20A (plus, and even more if stranded conductors are used, but that’s for another post).

          Bottom line, check the panel. See what breaker the outlet in question is. If it’s a modern-ish building, that hasn’t had some hack shove a 20A breaker on a leg that should only carry 15A, you’ll be fine.

          Code in most jurisdictions, you’re supposed to use a 20A outlet on a 20A leg, which NEMA number I forget at the moment. Just remember the neutral (slot on left) will have another horizontal slot in the middle of the usual vert slots, jutting left. Those you *know* are odds-on 20A legs.

          • 0 avatar

            We have found the 30a/30a Dryer outlet to be the most versatile outlet for dual-duty, like with air compressors and/or for EV charging stations.

            For flexibility, we installed a manual 50a switchbox that directed the power to either the Dryer or the other uses.

            Others have used the 40a/40a Electric Range outlet for dual-purpose uses.

            There are all sorts of ways to do this safely and within code.

          • 0 avatar

            Agreed. Your dryer outlet is generally your easiest access, pre-wired, charging point.

            There’s a variety of ways to skin the cat within the confines of the NEC. I was merely referring to 15A breaker comment.

          • 0 avatar

            Well I don’t claim to know about all the various jurisdictions around the country but I can tell you that you are wrong in my state which does follow the NEC. In my state all but 3 cites defer to the state for electrical permits and inspections. 15a circiuts are still legal for general lighting and outlets in areas other than the kitchen, bathroom, or garage. It is fully legal for example to run your two 20a kitchen outlet circuits and put 15a outlets as long as they are rated for a 20a pass through which everyone I’ve seen for sale in the last couple of decades is. It is also the norm and fully legal to put those same 15a outlets on the dedicated 20 fridge, washer, bathroom, and garage outlets and that is what is done. RE is my “day job” and I’ve been in many newly constructed homes and that is something that I pay attention too.

            Of course as I said at the beginning I do not know about other jurisdictions.

          • 0 avatar

            As I noted, YMMV. Your jurisdiction may allow 15A outlets on a 20A leg, there’s logic to it, I’m not claiming it to be written in stone – it’s not. There are many different ‘interpretations’ of the NEC – take it for what you will.

            I’m familiar with what I know, and I know that some won’t even allow 14ga unless it’s from the J-box to the fixture. (You can’t even get 14ga at the big-box.) I know that some won’t allow use of 15A outlets on a 20A leg. I understand the math, and that as long as it’s a 20A pass-through there’s no issue, but I’m used to rather verbatim enforcement in the munis I’m accustomed to. That, and I like to over-engineer, especially with regards to electrical.

            Electrical is a constantly moving target, with multiple targets to choose from.

            I don’t do it for a living, but I was bored one day and read the NEC, just for my own edification.(Which I have do every few years.) I’ve done wiring over the last few decades or so as need arises for myself and friends, no one ever thinks it wasn’t done by a union guy. I had a Master around for sign-off purposes on a project I was doing which needed a “Licensed Electrician”. He didn’t touch my stuff, and it was all regarded as ‘more than passable’.

    • 0 avatar

      If you drive it a short enough distance that it could cover two trips to work and back then plugging it in overnight in the 120v outlet in your garage should be more than enough to keep it charged for your commute the next day. If that doesn’t top it off then the 8hrs at work will ensure that you could drive it to work every day of the week.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised they wasted any money at all on what is so obviously a California compliance car. (What up 500e?)

    • 0 avatar

      Well it is a compliance vehicle so Ford had 3 options. #1 have an EV to sell. #2 purchase credits on the open market from either Nissan or Tesla. 3# abandon the CA market.

      So they chose option #1 and partnered with someone to reduce their investment. They then additionally offered it for sale outside of areas they need it for compliance to further amortize their low investment. Seems like the smartest move to me.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, but, why did they spend any additional money on it?

        They had one already. No reason to spend money on it any further, it’ll never pay back. Not on that platform, anyways. Maybe the next time around?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…the reason lies in the economics of the vehicle itself, as bigger battery packs add weight and cost.”

    This is the scale problem I’ve been talking about with EVs. It’s why you’ll never see an affordable EV truck or SUV.

    EVs are great if you want to drive a small jelly bean. But if you want to drive a small jelly bean, you’re not using much gas anyway, so what’s the point?

    (I sat in a Tesla Model X over the weekend. I’ve not run the numbers, but I dare say it’s smaller inside than a Honda CR-V. And the rear doors, while cool, take an eternity to close.)

  • avatar

    It’s not like Ford even developed the Focus EV. It’s a Focus body and interior with a drivetrain from Magna shoved under the hood. If Magna develops a 200-mile Focus, maybe Ford will use that too.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    What I envision is a new Ranger truck. Take the popular old Ranger/B2000 body dimensions and style (post a picture of it with arrow above facing Left). 215/75/17 wheels. 8 inches ground clearance with integral not optional step. 8 inches suspension travel. Top range double number head lights. Standard snorkel, just a subtle raised intake on the passenger side. 2 litre V8 (over square 250cc dirt bike cylinder). 90kw electric motor integrated for all low speed duty. Simplified transmission. 70 inch x 44 inch x 3 inch battery integrated under the truck bed designed to slide out for upgrade. All surfaces treated and coated and undercarriage mostly enclosed w/polyethylene shell.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Here’s an electric Ranger:



      • 0 avatar
        Brett Woods

        Holy smokes. I was on a big EV kick back in ’99 and saw a few home conversions of Rangers. I had got fired up by the Road & Track edition with AC Propulsion tzero on the cover and the story of Alan Cocconi. The EV West truck is at a whole other level though.

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    I’m still keen on a hybrid with a revvy 2L 8 cylinder w/ oversquare 250cc cylinders. While I’m still dreamin’, throw in a crossplane crankshaft. I wouldn’t even advertise anything about electric, or displacement. Only that it’s an 8 cylinder. Proper full bench seat with real springs. Exhaust pipes under the controller and up behind the cab like a big rig. Keeps it seemingly with hardcore dipper credentials, only mpg accidentally starts with a 4.

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