April 18, 2012

THE FUTURE, LIKE IT OR NOT:

Review: The Ford Focus Electric: The automaker says soon all its cars will be compatible with gas, electric, and hybrid drivetrains. (TOM SIMONITE, 4/18/12, Technology Review)

Ford is preparing for an era when choosing whether a new car is powered by gas, electricity, or both is as simple as choosing its color is.

All future models from the automaker will be designed so that they can be produced with gas, electric, or hybrid drivetrains, a strategy embodied by the Ford Focus Electric, made available for the first press test drives last week. While GM and Nissan designed their first all-electric mass production cars from scratch, Ford is essentially using a 2010 design with the gas guts switched for electric ones.

That made strolling up to a Ford Focus in San Francisco last week slightly underwhelming: from the outside, the car looks familiar (unless you're looking for the tailpipe). From the inside, though, in the driver's seat, the Focus Electric is distinctive. I found it well-suited to San Francisco traffic, a game of real-life Frogger that rewards those who can quickly zip between lanes and enter gaps that open and close in an eyeblink. The eager response of the electric motor when I put my foot down was a big help, and all the more distinctive due to the near-silence, which also allowed me to hear more of what was happening around me.

The Focus Electric's zip is something all-electric cars can offer. Electric motors can provide their full torque instantly, from any speed, while gas cars must rev up their engines before delivering extra torque to the wheels. 

Posted by at April 18, 2012 8:00 PM
  

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