Faster Charging a Major Advantage for Ford EV

Posted on 18. May, 2012 by in Auto News

Ford biggest selling point for its 2012 Focus Electric ($ 39,600) is that it loads twice as fast as other electric vehicles using a Level 2 240-volt supply. After testing a Focus Electric for a few days, I can confirm that the allegation is true and a compelling advantage, in fact.

In its simplest form, a focus exhausted battery is fully charged in about four hours, compared to about 8 hours for a Nissan Leaf. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which I reviewed recently used a smaller battery and takes closer to seven hours. But it is not only full loads, it's about how many miles you can drive in a given day, and some other less obvious advantages.

For the record, offering the Leaf and i-MiEV optional connections for DC fast charging, known as Level 3, which does not support the Focus. (Ford says wait there for a standard way to connect.) But Level 2 is the most important thing, because Level 3 charging expensive for the house, and a car that relies exclusively on battery power would be viable if all you have is 120-volt household power, known as Level 1.

How does the Focus charge faster than its competitors? It's pretty simple, really: The onboard charger has a capacity of 6.6 kilowatts. All other EVs and the Chevrolet Volt are limited to 3.3 kW.

To define a "charger" is not what you probably think. The thing with a cord installed on a wall or place on a post in a public setting is not the charger, it is the electrical system or equipment EVSE. Nissan calls it a "dock". Technically, the charger on board each vehicle. It converts AC to DC, and manages the performance of the battery charging process.

Before I get to the reasons for all this, here are some of the less obvious advantages I observed in two days with the Focus Electric:

  • Faster Cab Air Conditioning: If I remotely preheated the Focus Electric, it took more than 5 kW from the EVSE, ie the cabin warmed faster. (Conditioning the cabin before you drag and protects drive range.) We know that our Leaf cabin heater can use 4.5 kW or more while driving, but we have seen that by his own 3.3-kW of charging power, when plugged is limited
  • More miles per day: This is the simplest of all calculation. If you are adding twice the range of other EV on the same charge period, you can. More miles on your car in a day's time Sometimes I'll come home with our Leaf and then have to take a different car for the evening, while the sheet recharged. With the Focus, a few hours charging time were enough to give me the offer I had to take it out again.
  • Charging at a higher rate while you are shopping makes more sense: Walgreens is one of the most aggressive adopters of Level 2 charging, but we wonder if the insertion of a sheet for a 10-minute stop is worth the effort, even if it is free. But a focus could be a different story.
  • Fewer dollars per mile: Most charging is done overnight, when electricity costs less, but for the sake of argument, faster loading means you're better able to take advantage of off-peak prices, when they are available. Could complete a Focus EV charging while another might remain in the higher rate period.
  • More miles per dollar (or $ 2): A great reason to buy an EV is cheap for home charging, but you may have to calculate the opportunity to the public. Most public Level 2 charging is free, but if you are charged, it is usually by the time rather than the amount of electricity used (a legal issue that is sorted out yet). So if you add 20 to 30 miles range for every hour of charging time, you're getting more for your money. Than a sheet owner who added 10 to 15 miles in the same period

With all these advantages, why have not the other EV manufacturers 6.6-kW is charged? They say it's a matter of size and cost, although Nissan has announced that the 2013 Leaf will support 6.6 kW. What's frustrating is that, for the most part, the onboard charger is the only bottleneck.

However, not all Level 2 EVSEs calculated at the higher rate. Level 2 charging is standardized and requires 240 volts, but 6.6 kW to deliver the car, you will need two things: an EVSE that can supply enough power so much and penetrate into it. (A notable exception is the mass market Voltec-branded Level 2 EVSE Chevrolet is sold as an option for the Volt.)

Our SPX PowerXpress EVSE was properly when loading a Leaf, Volt and i-MiEV, usually drawing about 3.4 kW. When I loaded the Focus Electric, it drew 5.6 kW instead of the full 6.6 kW. Unfortunately, I was not aware of a hidden preference provided on our EVSE for use with a 30-amp, even though I had 40 amps. My mistake. This limited its output to 5.7 kW versus 7.7 kW possible.

Even at this level, the impoverished Focus Electric battery in four hours and charged for 10 minutes. With the right attitude, the car would have broken just four hours, and that's what's frustrating about the current rate, among other EVs. It usually takes eight hours to charge our long term sheet with this setup.

Both our existing EVSE and the ChargePoint networked unit in our garage – delivering more than 6 kW, if we get it right with the Focus – were ready for this charge rate for more than a year. The same applies to the AeroVironment EVSE from Nissan and Mitsubishi, and has selected the Ford Leviton device purveyed. The cars themselves are the limiting factor, came to the Focus Electric.