With the coming 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the Blue Oval boys are throwing their hat into the ever-growing ring of automakers building electric vehicles and so far, it looks as though the Focus EV will be stiff competition for Nissan’s Leaf.
One difference between air-cooled all-electric vehicles and the new “electrified” Focus is the regulation of battery temperature. The electric Focus will use an advanced active liquid-cooling and heating system which will control the temperature of the 23 kW-hr lithium-ion batteries. Extreme temperatures can affect an EV’s battery performance and reduce its range. The Focus will have two lithium-ion battery packs which are designed to operate under an array of conditions. The Focus Electric can also be fully charged in four hours when plugged in to a 240-volt outlet.
“Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to temperature,” said Thermal Program Management team engineer Dave Fabricatore. “As the battery temperature goes up we can turn that system on.”
An integrated cooling system will use a “chiller” that will help lower the temperature of the coolant going through the battery when needed. Temperature sensors are littered all over the vehicle which signals when the coolant system should kick in. The cooling system also keeps the battery cool while the car is charging, helping to cut charge times in warmer climates.
“Batteries can heat up when they’re charging or being used, and it’s made worse by ambient temperatures,” Fabricatore said in a statement announcing the battery cooling system. “Controlling the temperature lets us deliver the best range and power for the customer, while improving the longevity of the battery.”
The 2012 Ford Focus Electric is scheduled to be launched in late 2011 with 19 markets targeted. Some of these cities include Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Richmond, Va.