Ford Unveils Focus Electric, Claims Better Driving Dynamics Than Other Electric Cars

By · January 07, 2011

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric hatchback hits the North American market at the end of 2011.

After showing off the new MyFord Mobile smartphone app this morning—which will allow remote monitoring and control of all future Ford plug-in cars—Ford today used the International Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas to unveil the final production version of the Focus Electric, set to be launched in 19 markets later this year. The Focus Electric will join a growing group of consumer-available plug-in passenger vehicles, including the already-on-sale 2011 Nissan LEAF and 2011 Chevy Volt.

Much like its closest competition, the Nissan LEAF, the Focus Electric will offer around 100 miles of range (depending on driving conditions) packaged into a five-door hatchback, as well as all the other benefits of driving electric cars including a near silent ride, incredible efficiency, a high degree of internet connectivity, and extremely low per-mile operating costs. But the Focus Electric will offer several features that the LEAF doesn't offer—and has been criticized for lacking—including:

  • A higher speed on-board charger (6.6 kW) allowing it to be charged from standard "Level 2" 240 V home charging docks in half the time of a first generation LEAF—adding about 30 miles of driving range per hour of charging.
  • An actively liquid cooled and heated battery pack allowing for stable battery operation over a wide range of temperatures and lower temperature-related swings in driving range.
  • Highly customizable gauge cluster and center stack displays allowing drivers to make the information displayed work for them in whatever detail they desire—including battery state-of-charge and calculated driving range

Comparing a plug-in hybrid like the Volt to an all-electric car like the LEAF or the Focus Electric is tricky—although both types of vehicles plug-in, they are very different and target different markets. In any event, for comparison's sake, the Volt, like the LEAF, has an on-board charger of 3.3 kW, meaning the Volt battery also charges in twice the time of the Focus Electric. Granted this isn't a big deal because the Volt—being a plug-in hybrid—has a smaller effective battery size of less than 10 kWh, meaning even at 3.3 kW it can charge in about 3 hours. In a related announcement Ford also announced today that Best Buy will sell the charging stations for the Focus Electric, and then install them using the Geek Squad—all for around $1,499.

The Focus Electric will use the same standard charging plug that both the LEAF and Volt use. The lights around the charge port light up in sequence to indicate state of charge visually.

Although the Volt does have a liquid cooled and heated battery, based on the pictures below, it seems that Ford's EV driver displays are superior to both the LEAF and the Volt in many ways; I can't wait to get my hands on them and try them out. I've been digging the current generation MyFord Touch driver interface and the SmartGauge they introduced in the Fusion Hybrid a couple of years ago—together they provide drivers with a completely customizable experience and extremely useful diagnostics and coaching features. Regardless of old-school criticism from what appear to be non-connected drivers, in my opinion Ford is light years ahead of the rest of the competition when it comes to advanced driver interfaces.

For the Focus Electric Ford has heavily altered the MyFord Touch system, allowing drivers to customize the display on a case-by-case basis—altering it for the day's/week's/month's driving needs. "Consumers interested in an electric vehicle are more focused on reducing the impact their driving has on the environment,” explained John Schneider, Ford Driver Controls and Infotainment chief engineer. “Rather than minimize the realities of battery range and the need for more conscious trip planning in an electric vehicle, we’ve made it a core part of the ownership experience, giving owners the tools to actively manage how they can drive their car based on where they need to go.”

Top: The interior of the Ford Focus Electric showing both the gauge cluster and center stack display
Bottom: A close up of one view of the gauge cluster.

Given the relative lack of charging infrastructure currently, Ford says their MyFord Touch EV system will give drivers the tools needed to plan their trips and feel comfortable with the realities of their driving range. The system also provides what looks like truly helpful coaching advice about driver behaviors such as optimizing regenerative braking and accelerating without drawing too much energy. When I used these features in the Ford Fusion Hybrid on a five day test drive, rather than finding them annoying I actually found I started enjoying the game it provided—and I think many drivers out there will too. That's the genius of a system like this: it can make hypermilers out of even the most jaded among us.

Top: The brake coach feature of the gauge cluster.
Bottom: The center stack coaching feature.

Aside from these more tangible differences between the Focus Electric and its EV brethren, Ford is also claiming that the car has a better ride. "More than any other electric vehicle on the market, Focus Electric loses none of the dynamics and quality of driving a traditional car,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering. “It shares many of the same premium components and features as its gasoline-powered counterpart, while delivering distinct efficiencies and a uniquely exciting driving experience.” I can't wait to get some time behind the wheel to see if this claim actually plays out, because, to be honest, both the Volt and LEAF are incredibly fun cars to drive. This is a feature the most EVs share.

There's no word on pricing of the Focus Electric yet, but that, more than anything else, will determine what kind of value all of these additions provide on the marketplace. For now what I can say is that the Focus Electric looks like a true competitor and will likely make LEAF fence sitters think twice—and may even cause some current LEAF orderers to give up their place in line.

Source: Ford


· · 7 years ago

Why do they (GM and now Ford) put the charging port in front of the driver-side door? Consider the roadside charging bollard that some areas are installing. You would need to drag the cable around the car and stand out in traffic while plugging/unplugging it. If the cord isn't long enough it ends up on top of the hood, if it'll reach at all!

Front port strikes me as optimal with rear being second best in terms of accessibility: Most perpendicular parking you can either pull in (front port) or back in (rear port) and end up with the port closest to the charger, and if it's in the front you can more easily see how close you are. Third best location is passenger side for reasons I just explained (parallel parking scenario), and driver's side is the last place I'd put it.

I really gotta wonder what their reasoning is.

· SpiralEV (not verified) · 7 years ago

Does anyone know how the batteries in the Ford EV will compare to the Leafs batteries in terms of ability to operate at wider temperature ranges and longevity? The charge time seems pretty impressive. Any idea how long that will affect the longevity of the battery as well?


· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

@Smidge204: actually front port is most common parking method in the U.S., just look at any parking lot out there you will see. I agree passenger side is reasonable consider parallel parking is very common too.

· · 7 years ago

Smidge, in addition to what Anonymous said^, I think the reasoning is that your are unlikely to forget to unplug it or plug it in that location, as the visual cue is so strong. It's the same reason Volt chose to put their charge port there. LEAF is right in front which is also a good spot, but presents its own challenges.

SpiralEV, Ford and GM both claim that having liquid cooled/heated batteries allows for longer battery life as well as more stable driving ranges over a wide range of temperatures. Although the LEAF's batteries are not actively thermally managed, Nissan still has provided an 8 year battery warranty, just like the Volt's. I'm afraid time and real world experience will be the only true guide.

· SpiralEV (not verified) · 7 years ago

@Nick, thanks. I can't wait to see what the price of this vehicle is and what sort of battery life/warranty they'll give out. I've heard people claim that Nissan doesn't need as good of thermal management because their battery technology is superior.

One thing I'd REALLY like when buying an EV is some sort of guarantee that I would be able to pay to get a replacement battery in 8-10 years if it's no good. I fully expect any EV I purchase to last a long while.

· · 7 years ago

Spiral, Nissan and GM and Ford and Tesla have engineered their battery pack for easy removal, so I guarantee you that they wouldn't let an opportunity to sell you a new battery in 8-10 years slip away. It allows them to retain a customer rather than risking you'll leave for another brand.

· · 7 years ago

@Nick: "I think the reasoning is that your are unlikely to forget to unplug it or plug it in that location, as the visual cue is so strong."

I dunno. If you forget to plug the car in I think the onus is on you to develop better habits. There's nothing that really stands out on the car to remind you to plug in regardless of where the port is located. As for forgetting to unplug - an idiot light on the dash and a refusal to go into drive mode would suffice. Granted the plug on the driver's side is a stronger visual clue in this case, but I don't see it as an advantage overall.

Oh well! Not my job to design the thing :p

· JoKo (not verified) · 7 years ago

So,what about DC fast charging?Does the Focus support it?Which standard?I assume here in EU it will come with the Mennekes-Plug,but I wonder if they will put in an additional Chademo-Plug just like the Leaf or if they will stick with Mennekes,which announced a DC adapter for 2013.....

· · 7 years ago

JoKo, no word on DC fast charging support yet.

· patrick (not verified) · 7 years ago

I agree with Smidge204 that it should be a standard safety feature on board that if the car is charging with electrical hook up the driver should not able to start the car at all.

Perhaps the manufacturers figured roadside charging station is light years away!! Ha,ha!

· patrick (not verified) · 7 years ago

My air pump for the air mattress will not turn on when the build-in battery is charging! I don't see the auto makers cannot add this feature into their plug-ins.

· · 7 years ago

@all, All EVs do have that fail safe that you can't pull away with the plug still in. It's more of a convenience thing. As well as a visual cue to remind you to plug it in when you're getting out.

· · 7 years ago

I, for one, can not wait for this! I have been sitting on the fence not about whether or not buy an EV, but whether or not to build one vs buy an OEM. The Focus is exactly what I've been wanting to walk into a show room and buy for YEARS now. It is going to completely kill me to have to wait almost a year for them to be available, and since I am not in one of their initial markets, who knows how long until I can actually buy it. NOW, NOW NOW! Come on Ford!

· · 7 years ago

Thank you for this long awaited article! I definitely prefer the styling over the LEAF. The battery thermal management should give more peace of mind if nothing else, and 6.6 kW charging would also make a big difference when utilizing chargers at businesses and public places. If Ford prices this EV competitively, then I'll have no problem finally canceling my LEAF reservation. (What I really want is a RAV4 EV with 150 miles of range and 4WD, though...)

· JJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

DC already has a charging port at a parallel parking space. I agree, it should be on the passenger side.

Further, cities with angled downtown parking are moving to make them back-in spaces, as theyre MUCH safer. That makes the leaf location also not great.

· · 7 years ago

Thanks for this article Nick. If the Focus EV has decent range in very cold weather and is priced competitively it could weaken my resolve to wait for a second generation model. It sure is tempting! (I'd have to tow it 300 miles from Denver across the mountains, but I could manage that.)

Ford may have a winner here. I look forward to test drive reports. I'd also like to see technical details about how the thermal management system works.

· TallRussian (not verified) · 7 years ago

The front grille looks a bit oversized, but the rest of the car is nice. I am waiting for a decent electric car to replace my 2004 Acura TL commuter and would buy Ford Focus electric when it is available if the price is reasonable and if the range is at least 100 miles (my daily commute is 70 miles round trip). Good job Ford! Please do not disappoint us California commuter on the battery capacity. 100 miles per charge is a must in California, as it takes at least 30 miles to go anywhere (city, theaters, shopping, dining, beaches, etc).

· · 7 years ago

For those who haven't seen it, this is Ford's Focus EV website:

The reported battery capacity is only 23 kwh, which I find a bit disappointing. I don't suppose that's likely to change now.

· cphtdeb2 (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm waiting for A RAV4 too abasile. Great idea! Toyota are you listening?

· · 7 years ago

cphtdeb2, the new RAV4 EV has already been announced! A joint project of Tesla and Toyota. Due out in 2012:

· EVdriver (not verified) · 7 years ago

At first I agreed that liquid thermal management was the way to go, but then the thermal management system is only as good as it's weakest seal or gasket and from what I've seen each cell in the pack tends to have a very thin liquid filled plate between it and the next cell, average pack has around 120 (I think) cells in it so you end up with 120 points that could fail.
Nissan has a fan inside their sealed battery box to cool the batteries, they claim that it is enough and that their batteries will stay warm for a day or two after charging in cool weather but I suspect they will install some sort of battery heating system for cars sold in northern states.
As for driving away with the car still plugged in, even my 1975 Citi-Car has that feature.

· Chris C. (not verified) · 7 years ago

Saying they will charge twice as fast as a Leaf is a nicely opportunistic move by Ford. The Ford Focus EV apparently has a 6.6kW charger onboard. The Nissan Leaf does indeed have only a 3.3kW charger on board, but that's just for the first year (if that). They will upgrade the production line to 6.6kW soon.

At least that was the net.wisdom a few months ago. I don't know for sure what the latest status is. I took delivery on my Volt 3 weeks ago and promptly cancelled my Leaf order (By the way I think the "20,000 orders" claim by Nissan is nonsense -- as long as that's a refundable deposit, that line is going to be full of non-serious buyers like me)

At the very least, this claim by Ford should light a fire under Nissan to clarify when they are going to start equipping the Leafs with 6.6kW chargers.

· · 7 years ago

@dgp - good news! You can buy the Focus EV *and* have already waited for the second generation. The cars coming out today certainly are not first gen! For a short while I owned a factory-built Ford EV that was built in 2000.

So how about that. You're in luck!

· Paul-SJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

The Ford Focus Electric site ( says there's a standard 120v convenience charging cord. If 240v/6.6kW can fully charge the Focus Electric in 3 hrs., does anyone have a guess on how long it would take to charge at 120v?

· · 7 years ago


For various reasons the 120V charger is unlikely to draw more than 12 amps, since it's possible the outlet only has a 15 amp breaker (Max continuous load if 80% breaker rating per NEC). That limits power at 120V * 12A = 1,440 watts. If it takes 3 hours at 6,600 watts it'll take 13.75 (say 14) hours at 1,400 watts.

· · 7 years ago

I think Ford has figured out - after that government handout that they backed out of taking - how to hold onto their customers. If Ford ever changes the style on the Focus and make it more enjoyable to look at and easier to find in the parking lot without using a GPS system, I will give up my fossil fuel Mustang in a heartbeat and latch onto the Focus or an electric Mustang if they ever convert it to electric.

· · 7 years ago

Well, I think I found my car. I was pretty set on getting a Volt, either when it becomes available in KY or as a car for LA but this thing is beautiful. And the hatchback looks just perfect for transporting equipment or a dog. And I like the eco-friendlly seats. Great article.

· · 7 years ago

@darelldd, Re: "second generation". Ok, I guess I had that one coming, given all the EV vets here. I guess I should say that I'll need to wait for a "third generation" Ford EV.

My problem is that I need to go 70 miles (round trip), part of that on dirt roads and/or snow (reduced traction efficiency), part of the time during real winters—it was -13º at my house New Year's morning—(reduced battery capacity).

On the plus side, high altitude (I live at 7670') means greatly increased mileage, as I've discovered when I take my car down to sea level and see the mileage fall off a cliff. And speed limits here on our two lane "highways" max out at 60 mph (the nearest freeway is 95 miles away)

I'd feel more comfortable with an EV with a nominal range of 125+ miles. But if charge stations got installed in my destination city (Montrose, CO, elevation 5800') I'd probably take the plunge now. I'd only need the extra range boost in Winter. My hope—that's all it is—is that the Ford/Nissan dealer will install a charge station (I need to talk to them about that). Seeing them pop up at stores would be even better. But out here in the boondocks "real men" drive trucks. I think EV charging infrastructure will be a long time coming to the hinterlands.

For now, I wait. Impatiently.

· · 7 years ago

How exciting is it that we suddenly seem to have EV *choices!?* The little hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.

· · 7 years ago

@dgpcolorado: I have also noticed gas mileage improvements at altitude due to the thinner air. The one bad thing about altitude is less oxygen available for gasoline combustion. With an EV, you of course get the benefits of altitude without that drawback. In any case, I sure do enjoy living up high, and had a great road trip through Colorado with my family a few months ago. :-)

In my case, given decent charging infrastructure near the bottom of "our" mountain, I might be able to get comfortable with an EV with less range. Charging at a Nissan or Ford dealer wouldn't cut it. We don't want to kill time at car dealerships. 6.6 kW charging at Trader Joes and Costco, plus a DC fast charger somewhere close if needed, now you're talking!

· · 7 years ago

Also, for those of us who live in or visit California's mountains, 4WD is helpful to avoid having to put on snow chains, which they seem to require even after the slightest dusting, unless you have 4WD/AWD. It drives me nuts how this over-controlling policy sort of forces people to buy less efficient vehicles, when FWD and good tires would often suffice. Maybe you don't have that problem in Colorado. But that's why a RAV4 EV with 4WD would be nice in California.

· · 7 years ago

Abasile -

Yes, that drives me nuts as well! So many people buying SUVs so they can easily pass chain controls... then the other 360 days they drive 'em to work. :sigh:

· · 7 years ago

As for the thin air... easiest way I notice it is on bicycle descents. Here you have a terrible aero situation with little density... and it is AMAZING how fast you can go down hill at elevation. Weeee!

· · 7 years ago

I live above the chain controls. The current issue for me is not getting tickets driving our 3rd gen. Prius (a fine car on moderate snow/ice) on the main road without chains. I have one such ticket ($200) to fight. In upstate New York where I was raised, folks basically never used chains, hills or no hills. I suppose that even if the 2012 RAV4 EV doesn't have a 4WD option, it'll probably at least *look* like a 4WD vehicle. :-) Sadly, this very issue could keep us from buying a Focus EV (or a LEAF); we don't want two cars that "have" to be chained up just because of a little fresh snow. (If chains are truly necessary, we don't drive.)

· · 7 years ago

It is astonishing that a rule could be made that basically states - if all four wheels can be driven, they're you're good to go. You don't have to be a good driver. You don't have to have snow tires. But if they can all be powered... wow. You're safe!

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

All Ford has to do to sell me this car is deliver it. I paid $99 for a LEAF on day one (April 20, 2010 after getting on the list in Nov 2009) and have been told I'm behind everyone in California. Seriously. I'll write the check. First to deliver gets my money.

· · 7 years ago

@abasile, I sympathize with your chain law issues; my parents used to have a house at Lake Arrowhead so I did a lot of S. Cal snow driving when I was younger. Here in Colorado chains are required only for large trucks (and only when really needed, anyone who has driven Red Mountain Pass near my home will understand). Otherwise CDOT just puts up a sign and you're on your own (if you get in a wreck because of conditions, you can be ticketed for unsafe driving).

I think the California chain laws date from the rear wheel drive era (as do I, for that matter...). Front Wheel Drive cars handle snow and ice much better than RWD ones, in my experience. Plus, many California drivers are unaccustomed to driving on snow and ice so the laws are, perhaps, over-protective: it only takes one inexperienced driver to jam up a whole road. Here chains are pretty much unheard of for passenger cars. Those who drive snow and ice a lot just use snow tires. And/or 4WD, of course. The rest just wait for the roads to be plowed and sanded. The problem with 4WD is that it doesn't help much with stopping, just "go-ing", so it can lead to overconfidence and driving too fast. Seeing rolled over SUVs along I-70 west of Denver is routine in Winter for those who drive that route.

· · 7 years ago

@dgpcolorado: Back in New York state as a kid, I remember lots of tank-like American cars with rear wheel drive struggling on the snow. I see it today with oversized RWD pickup trucks; I can drive circles around them with a Prius.

On moderate snow/ice, you're generally safer in a car like the LEAF, Focus, or Prius with proper tires than in a big, tall 4WD SUV. The low center of gravity and excellent weight distribution work in your favor. I don't expect to roll over in the Prius! You really only need a high clearance 4WD vehicle for significant unplowed snow.

This reminds me of another open question. The third-generation Prius has, in my opinion, very impressive electronic traction control / VSC on snow/ice. It's not so aggressive that it overly inhibits forward motion, but it does a great job of preventing spin-outs. I wonder how the traction control on the LEAF or Focus EV would compare.

· · 7 years ago

@abasile, My current car is a '96 Jeep Cherokee that I got years ago to get up my 400 foot driveway in Winter and to explore the very rugged back roads around here. It gets pretty good mileage for the type because it has a manual transmission and I'm an easy-does-it driver. Until October I had an '86 VW Golf but I hit a deer with it and there was no point in repairing a car that was 25 years old with 230,000+ miles on it. (Deer are the main cause of collisions here, sooner or later everyone hits one. I try to avoid driving at "deer-o'clock". One of my worries is that I buy an EV and promptly total it by hitting a deer!)

I miss that VW Golf: great mileage and fun to drive. The Jeep drives like the truck it is. That's one reason I am so impatient for EVs to get the range and cold weather performance I need. I am keenly aware that, in trying to make an EV work here, I am trying to put a square peg in a round hole: the current models are designed for sunbelt suburbia not sparsely populated and spread out rural mountain areas.

My concern with the Focus EV is that it will come in at a higher price than the Leaf, which is already solidly in the "luxomobile" price range by my thrifty standards ($15K for a Honda Fit is my idea of a reasonable car purchase). It is hard for me to see prices dropping on these vehicles for many years, despite competition from increasing numbers of models and manufacturers. It will be some years before the early adopter market is saturated and even longer before the cars are profitable for the auto companies, though I am confident that day will come. If the Focus EV comes in at a high price I guess I will wait for a second gen Tennessee Leaf or hope that another car company hits the market with an EV with a suitable cold weather range and a lower price. Yeah, I'm dreaming...

· · 7 years ago

@dgpcolorado: By making EVs work for us in our respective mountain environments, perhaps we can help illustrate the point that they are "real" and viable alternatives. ("If it works for me, it'll definitely work for you!")

With an EV, assuming good battery life, the big costs are upfront. I realize I'll have to buck up and pay more than usual for a car, though. It should be worthwhile, both because of being fun to drive and also for the many benefits to our country and humanity.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

23Kw/hr battery pack?
There is no way they will get 100 mile range with 23Kw/hr
That's 0.23Kw/Hr per mile.
Motor Trent tested Nissan Leaf and got 81 miles with 24Kw/hr.
Try using the AC or Heater, range will be further reduced.

For 4 passenger cars, it's more like 0.35-0.4 Kw/hr per mile.
Check out the Tesla and Volt data

The real truth is, with 45% coal burning and 24.2% natural gas power plants(according to U.S. Government data as of Sept. 2010), it's not ZERO emission any way.

I calculate to weighted average of 1.26 LB of CO2 per Kw/hr.

With 0.35Kw/hr per mile, EVs produce 0.44LB of CO2 per mile by power plants.

· · 7 years ago

0.35 Kwhr/mile for a Tesla would only happen driving about 80 mph with the A/C running in the rain. Its closer to 0.3 Kwhr at 75 mph average and no A/C. Much less if one drives conservatively.
Sure EVs aren't perfect but they're better than gasoline and getting better as the grid cleans up. They are a path toward 100% sustainable transportation.

· · 7 years ago

@Telos -

I don't see why the Ford couldn't do 100 miles on 23 usable kWh. My barn-door-like Rav4EV can do over 100 miles on 24 kWh.

You say "EVs produce 0.44 lb of C02 per mile by powerplants"... have you considered that not all EVs will be powered by powerplants? As ex-EV1 points out - EVs are not perfect. The question is, will they be better for our future than what we're doing now?

· Jano (not verified) · 7 years ago

Ford - hmmm - I purchased a 2010 Ford Fusion from these guys - made in Mexico - yep that's right folks - the car with the huge Automatic Transmission problems (look it up on the internet if your interested) - Well while Ford Motor Company was saving money producing the Consumers Choice (how it got that accolade?) car of the year the 2010 Ford Fusion with the garbage transmission (parts manufactured like dollar store parts) they were working away on this magical electric car. Well terrific - all I can say - is wait a year or two before jumping on this band wagon and find out what the consumer really thinks of this thing before anyone goes out and buys it!!! I'm totally unhappy with my brand new Ford Fusion 2010 that acts worse than my 13 year old Chrysler Intrepid after just 6 months of ownership....oh and guess what - no recalls - no surprise - imagine if they had to fix the transmission on all of the 2010 Fusions produced....Heading to the dealership this morning and I'm not HAPPY!!! Let's rock and roll FORD - !!!

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver

Well, here are some facts; look it up yourself.
70% of our power plants are Coal and Natural gas. Yes but only 30% is Zero emission.
It will vary by your location but national average is the national average

Believe me, I am all for the EV. I work in the industry. I made hugh investment.

Here is what most people are missing; The biggest emission factor is the WEIGHT OF THE CAR.

For example, if you drive 2,000 LB fuel efficient car with 50mpg, the CO2 emission will be 0.4 LB per mile. According to government data, 1gallon of gasoline will produce 19-21 LB of CO2.

So, 20/50=0.4 lb per mile. That's less than what EVs generate and most of the hybrids.

How heavy is your cars?

But most American are not willing to drive small cars. Who wants to compete with 4,500 - 5,000 LB SUVs on the road?

The fact is that most people will not pay more money for EVs. People want to be green but when it hits their pocket book, that's another story.

All these are hype and show by Auto company. They will not go into full production because they will lose lots money when they sell this.

Typical automobile companies has to produce 300,000 cars per model per year to just break even.

The government should give out big incentive to drive micro cars.

We should continue to develop lower cost energy storage device and build more cleaner power plants.

Why people think only way to reduce CO2 emission is to drive EVs?
Everyday, we generate CO2 emissions:
Heater(NG, oil or electric), stove, hot water heater, fire place, BBQ, hair dryer, camp fire, I can go on...

Only clean power generations are hydro, nuclear, solar and wind. But solar and wind are too expensive at this point.

· · 7 years ago

It's interesting that almost every discussion about electric vehicles always includes the CO2 argument. While I do agree that civilization does need to design and build cleaner power plants, why should we care about where the electricity comes from when deciding to purchase an EV? Do you worry about the source of electricity when you decide to buy a computer, or home appliance, or HD television, or electric lamp? No, you buy those things because they make your life easier or more fun, or they satisfy a practical need. If everyone who argues that EVs are not eco-friendly because they use electrons from a coal plant, then those people should unplug their refrigerators, TVs, lamps, computers, and appliances at their home. Otherwise they are just hypocrites.

The issue of CO2 emissions is a global problem that has resulted from industrialization and electrification of developed countries around the world. And since many emerging market countries around the world are starting to consume more resources, it's doubtful that the global CO2 problem will go away any time soon, especially when millions more people buy and drive hydrocarbon fueled automobiles. But if civilized societies start now to reduce tail-pipe CO2 emissions by encouraging the population to drive EVs, then that's progress. The point is to start making progress now, and stop these inane arguments that make no sense and only slow down the evolution of our modern society. No one is going back to the days of the horse for transportation, and oil may not last to the end of this century. So an electric powered vehicle for personal transportation in our civilized, developed societies makes perfect sense. After a sizable group of the population begins driving EVs, there will be many engineers working to develop clean power sources to provide the electricity for those EVs, and all the other electric appliances that civilization wants.

· · 7 years ago

@Rahbab - excellent response, and thank you! The argument that I like to make is: If we're afraid to switch from gasoline to electric for our vehicles because of pollution and/or C02 concerns... should we consider switching our homes from electric to gasoline?

>> How heavy is your cars?
Most of my transportation is done by bicycle. My main bike weighs 18 pounds.
My EV weighs 3400 pounds and is 100% fueled from my PV system on my roof.

>>Why people think only way to reduce CO2 emission is to drive EVs?
Nobody I know of thinks that this is the *only* way to reduce CO2. It is one of many ways that can help. And there are WAY more reasons to switch from gas drive to electric drive than just the CO2 debate. Please note that so many on this site talk about EVs because this is an EV forum! It is pretty much what we do.

In general I can tell that you and I want the same things in general... I just tire of hearing the same old slams against EVs - how they burn coal, how they aren't "zero" emission "in any way," and won't help with CO2. The fact is that they don't have to burn coal and they CAN help with CO2... and so much more.

· evnow (not verified) · 7 years ago


Your coal story is an old talking point. It keeps coming up again and again - since people apparently can't think beyond next quarter. There have been very detailed studies done on this - so do some web searching.

In 20 years we want have very low emissions from power plans AND from transportation. Only way to achieve this is by starting to convert BOTH power plants and ICE cars NOW. Afterall we have 350 million gas cars to replace in the US.

As the grid becomes cleaner Electric cars get cleaner too. Try that with a gas car. Ofcourse in the northwest or for people who have PV - it is already zero emission.

Remember, in the coming years the grid will invarably get cleaner and the oil gets dirtier (tar sands !).

All this, without even mentioning Peak Oil, sending money to terrorists, spending a Trillion $ this decade alone to "secure" the oil, countless lives lost in wars, dangerous pollution because of cars in heavily populated areas, oil "spills" etc.

Buying an EV is a no-brainer.

· · 7 years ago

Does the Ford Focus EV have any kind of "Eco Mode" like Leaf does to get even more range?

· · 7 years ago

I'm not a big fan of having one "eco" switch that does all these various things in one package. I'd like high performance from the go-pedal AND highest regen possible. There's no reason to NOT want high regen when I want to go fast! In general these cars need to allow us access to more of the regen potential. Driven a Tesla lately? Even THAT is dialed back too much.

· · 7 years ago

On the flipside, I'd like to be able to turn off the "simulated engine braking" regen in order to coast (aka. "glide"). In the Prius we have to carefully feather the accelerator to achieve this, or at speeds below 45 mph, use "neutral" if desired. We need a regen selector. I think the Volvo C30 EV has this.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

I am so glad to see you guys are so passionate about EVs. Like I said, I have been designing electric motor/ controller and Lithium battery system for last 11 years.

I think you guys missed my main point. EV or Gas, we must make the car light as possible.
Over 2,000 lb car does not make sense whether EV or not. If you are concerned about CO2 or foreign oil dependency, drive light weight cars.


I really doubt you will get 100 mile real world mile from 24 Kw/hr battery pack.
Just pure physics, with RAV4 Cd and 3,400 lb, it will be more like 0.35Kw/mile.
The ranges will be very greatly depend on how many stop and go in your driving just like gas cars.

I came up with simple ball park formula for passenger cars with medium Cd.
Weight of car/10,000=Kw/mile

What kind of battery are you using?
How do you collect PV power when you are driving your car? Another battery pack at home?
How big is PV on your roof? My guess is around 2-3kw/hr if you drive 50-60 miles a day.
It sounds like you don't drive far, may can get away with 1kw/hr

I am really curios,


Here is the facts, from 2009 to 2010, coal power plant went up 7.8% and NG went up 6.5%.
We are not reducing it, they are getting bigger.
yes, they are working on gasification process but anytime you burn hydro carbon, you will produce CO2,
They are trying to pump back into ground or grow algae. They have long way to go.

How about nuclear? They are clean. Are you for nuclear?

EVs have long way to go to impact CO2 reduction. None will go into full production in our life time it just does not make economical sense for Auto companies and other mass buyers.

You guys are exception. In our industry, we call greeny, they will buy anything green regardless of the cost but you are less than 1% of pop.

To make impact today, drive small car. If you drive heavy EVs, you are just hypocrite.

All EVs are all show and the hype these days. they will produce few thousand and realize big financial lloss. And bean counter will kill it.

I know

· · 7 years ago

@Telos -

I don't think I missed your point. Did you notice that my main transportation is by bicycle? I typically don't see a reason for the transportation machine to weight more than the thing being transported. I can't see how any traditional automobiles are sustainble - even the lightweight ones you propose. Even the lightweight ones will consume more power to propel themselves than to propel their cargo. I do believe that EVs are better (at least have the potential to be better) than gas cars from a sustainability point. Even if they are heavy. For my money, aero is even more important than weight. But it depends on how the car is operated. But if you are worried about sustainability - walk or ride a bike. I'm in agreement with you that smaller vehicles will be better for all of us. I harp on that constantly.

And after that we diverge. You are arguing theoretical numbers and guesses, while I am arguing more than ten years of direct EV experience and data collection.
>I really doubt you will get 100 mile real world mile from 24 Kw/hr battery pack.
Just pure physics<
You doubt I can do it, and yet I've done it many times. I have a 26 kWh NiMH pack. about 24 usable. My record is 135 miles on a charge. Two people in the car, 200 pounds of extra cargo, 90 degree day with AC blasting. The "pure physics" that you mention do not prevent me from doing this. Your math might be sound, but you are working with numbers that you're guessing at. I have a meter on my charger, and every month I record how much I've put into the car, and how many miles I've driven it. After 80,000 miles I have a pretty good handle on the car's consumption. And your 0.35 kWh/mile guess is quite a bit off. The physics works out just fine - but you have to use the correct numbers! My lifetime average is about 0.28 kWh per mile. Understand that some of that is in extreme conditions Iover-loaded, pulling a trailer, cargo box on the roof, in the driving rain and wind, high speed... and not driving for range. When I drive for range, I obviously do much better than that. But 0.28 is my average over 80,000 miles. So you can doubt all you want - it won't change reality.

>> The ranges will be very greatly depend on how many stop and go in your driving just like gas cars.<<
Well yes and no. Yes because range can vary greatly with how you drive in any vehicle... but not at all like in gas cars. In fact in many ways it is the opposite for the two vehicles. Stop and go in a gas car lowers your efficiency and decreases your range significantly. This is why city mileage is always lower than highway mileage for gas cars. Stop and go in an EV nets you greater range (than high-speed driving, which I assume is what we would compare it to). EVs enjoy HIGHER city mileage ratings than highway ratings(!) Except for extreme circumstances, the slower average speed in an EV increases efficiency. A gas car that has a relatively narrow efficiency band can't manage this. So even stop-and go increases range in an EV. Again... won't pencil out on paper if you use the wrong numbers and assume gas and electric are equally efficient at various loads and speeds. They are not. And of course you know this from your work.

>What kind of battery are you using?<
NiMh. Developed in the late 80's and early 90's. Really you're in the industry and into EVs and aren't aware of the most popular and must durable EV/battery combination ever made to date?

>How do you collect PV power when you are driving your car?<
I don't use the power directly. I make enough solar power to offset everything the car (and the house) uses. The PV is on the roof of my garage and is net metered. I feed the grid when I'm not using it. Take it back out to charge the car at night.

>How big is PV on your roof? My guess is around 2-3kw/hr <
kWh? Can't measure it that way. The system is rated at 2.5 kW.

>It sounds like you don't drive far, may can get away with 1kw/hr<
When we had multiple EVs in the family, this car was not used as much. But when it has been our main car (for a total of about seven years now) we've put about 11,000 miles per year on it. Might not be much for the Average American, but it is WAY more than I ever want to drive. I do about 8,000 miles by bicycle each year. My wife commutes in the EV.

Does that clear it up at all? Do you see why I take exception to your theoretical numbers when I have *real* numbers to work with?


- Darell

· · 7 years ago

I think you're getting hung up a bit on lightness. Colin Chapman (founder of Lotus corp) would love you but with EVs, regenerative braking reduces the impact of vehicle mass on the efficiency. The main place that vehicle mass affects vehicle efficiency is with tire drag which goes up linearly with the vehicle mass. If the electric motor is well sized, a lot of the energy required to accelerate a heavier vehicle is recovered through regenerative braking. It is still a factor but not nearly as important as with an ICE vehicle which is so inefficient during acceleration and wastes the braking energy.
The main factor on EV efficiency is aerodynamic drag.

· · 7 years ago

When Telos speaks of theoretically not being able to get a "real world" range of 100 miles from the existing RAV4 EV, I wonder if he is referring to "typical" inefficient driving patterns, which Darelldd eschews. Jackrabbit starts, slamming on the brakes, higher speeds, etc.

· · 7 years ago

I agree that my "real world" isn't the same as everybody else's. But I also contend that my "real world" is way more real than a guess at numbers.

· · 7 years ago

Darelldd, I'm with you there!

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ex ev driver

Agreed, I guess the optimum is the light weight and Cd.
Good example is Aptera but style is love it or hate it.


I am so glad to see your efficient data. I wish more people use the EV as you do.
0.28 is pretty impressive number.
That's equivalent to around 90 mpg in economic scale.

Nimh is more safer but little heavy. Lithium ion battery is unsafe except Iron phosphate so far but heavier than Lithium Cobalt.
Did you ever see one blow up? I did

Wait till one blow up with the level III charger. Charging in 10-30 min?
Sound great but very dangerous with the immature Li technologies.

You will see better and cheaper energy storage tech in future. I have seen interesting battery

How much power company pays you for the Kw/hr?

I am all for EV but when I hear people saying ZERO emission.....

Wow, you guys are so sensitive about source of the electricity.

· · 7 years ago

Did you ever see a gas tank blow up? Anything that crams a lot of energy into a very small volume or mass is going to be dangerous whether it's a mousetrap or a nuclear bomb. This clearly doesn't mean it can't be used, one just has to take necessary precautions.
It is important for any designer of EVs to handle battery safety - but it can be done. I, for one like Tesla's approach to using commodity priced laptop computer batteries - simple elegance. They isolate all the cells in a flame suppressant gel so that if one cell does catch fire, it won't propagate to adjacent cells. They also use the gel to help distribute their liquid cooling to keep all cells at the same, controlled temperature so they can avoid stressing any cell. This has resulted in a very reliable, yet low-cost battery.

· · 7 years ago

@Telos - Well you lost me with these two conflicting lines:

>I am all for EV but when I hear people saying ZERO emission.....
>Wow, you guys are so sensitive about source of the electricity.
It is BECAUSE my energy comes from my solar system that my EV is ZERO emission. So yeah, I am sensitive about the source - as should be everybody.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ex ev1driver

You are absolutely right about the gas tank. The issue is that if happens once people will over react.
Just look at the AZ shooting(did I just opened new can of worm) interesting thing is, gun sales are going up to roof.

Well, I just hope nothing happens. But there are lot more companies out there with little R&D and trying to implement fast charging. That scares me. One bad mistake will effect other's progress.

Another note, when I work as Aerospace engineer, we used to calculate MTBF(mean time between failure) per Mil-202, if my memory is correct.
With the more of number components, MTBF calculation lower by direct proportion.

We use to say "keep it simple and use less component as possible"
Also, most of the failure was the manufacturing process. So, with so many new battery manufacturer and many comes from China, I am little worried.

I am pro EV with the practical views. My personal success is depends on the EV's success.

· · 7 years ago

All that you say is why I've been saying for a long time that building a car is very hard but it is the most important thing. All of the charging infrastructure, energy source, new battery technology games are trivially easy compared with making an automobile that lives up to today's expectations. This is one reason some will come down hard on folks that focus on the energy sources. Once the cars are on the road, we can focus on cleaning up the grid, in the mean time, it shouldn't be a barrier.
I think that you'll find that a poorly designed battery system can blow up just from normal running or Level 2 charging, especially on a hot day.
Its why Tesla had to start with high-end cars and why I worry about the shade-tree mechanic folks that could give the whole industry a black eye.

· · 7 years ago

Ford is reportedly going to focus on lowering weight in their vehicles to improve mileage:

While this is a valid strategy for ICE cars I would think that the benefits for EVs would be reduced. With EVs much of the kinetic energy can be recovered by regenerative slowing/braking systems. I'd rather that they do more to improve the Cd of their vehicles so that they would be more efficient at moderate to high speeds. There would seem to be some low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked in reducing drag, IMHO.

Of particular interest to me were the comments by Bill Ford Jr. expressing his reservations about hydrogen:

" We continue to invest in hydrogen and we had not only the fuel cell car, but we had internal combustion hydrogen as well. But it seems to me a hydrogen fuel cell would be a great thing to power a power station to create the electricity to power our vehicles. I do think [battery] electrification makes a lot of sense for us. Hydrogen is tough to store, to transport, and yeah you can get it from renewables in a lab, but most hydrogen today is petrochemically derived, and if that is the case, why? Why would you do that? But a stationary fuel cell to power a power plant, sure. Then you start to have an interesting equation."
—Bill Ford Jr.

This guy gets it! I am becoming increasingly impressed with him.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago


Thank you for article
I may sound like broken record, but Ford finally gets it on the weight reduction.
Yes, Cd is important that's if the car is driven at the high speed. At 35-45 mph, Cd does not have a that much impact. At highway speed, it does impact quite a bit.
To achieve the very low Cd, car design looks like an airplane.
Take a look at the Aptera EV. The style is unique and it's so far from the typical car. It's a love or hate design. Most general public has hard time accepting it.

As for the regen braking for recovering kinetic energy; yes you can recover some energy back but you use lot more energy push the heavier vehicle to the desire speed and typically motor efficiency drops at the higher load. It may go from 90% to 60% motor efficiency.

That's why it needs some kinds of transmission but most people think EVs does not require it. When you pull heavy current from the battery, it's capacity will be reduced some and become less efficient. It is greatly depends on the internal resistance of the battery but all battery will heat up at the heavier load, which equates to energy loss. With the transmission, you can operate the electric motor at their highest efficiency load/RPM range by adjusting the RPM of the motor. At the higher RPM, current draw is lot less.
But without the clutch system, it's very tricky to synchronize gears and with the super high torque of the electric motor, you need heavier gears. Then again, there is the cost issue and efficiency loss in the transmission. When we implemented the VVT in small vehicle, we achieved much as 12% increase in the range with the higher accelation. We adopted not to due to the cost and the complexity.

Which you rather push someone on wheel chair? 120 lb person or 300 lb fat guy?
Most cars only require ~15 HP to maintain constant speed(flat ground) but why do they have 120 HP motor on it. It requires 4-8 X power to accelerate to the desire speed, it greatly depends on how fast you want the 0 - 60 mph time.

The general public does not understand energy recovery(regen braking) driving on EV. They drive like regular car and generally they don't like heavy regen feel, when they apply brake.
We only achieved around 2 - 5% range increase compare to without the regen braking.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ ex ev1driver

I agree with you 100%.

eitherway, EV won't be general public's solution for masses in very near future anyway.

We have long way to go, but it's a good start.

This is a great forum!, you guys are passionate and understand the logic.
Discussions are to the point, not emotional.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago


I am currios. How much your power company pay you per Kw/hr?
And how much do you get per month?

I bought 220watt panel for EV charging project last year. it costed me $800.
Without gov subsidy, my ROI was 20+ years, I don't think my other electronics will last that long.

Keep cycling, it's healthier and safer for the environment.

To be honest, I am more worried about the Methane gas, which is about 20X worth than CO2 emissions.

· · 7 years ago

I don't believe that the data supports your conclusions. I don't have time for a lengthy discussion now but here are some interesting graphs provided by Tesla regarding Roadster performance:
I don't believe you'll find any benefit for a transmission unless you really need both low end acceleration and high top speed, even then, putting in a bigger motor will accomplish the same result without increasing drivetrain losses at all.
I'll try to get back with a clearer explanation later.
Oh yes, the general public does not drive an EV so I think your claim about their preferences is a bit premature.

· · 7 years ago

@telos - I'm on a net meter and get paid exactly what I would pay out if I were using power. And that amount varies with the time of day. So anywhere from about 11c to 30c per kWh in what I pay or get paid depending on which way my meter spins. They don't actually give me money, however - just credit to be applied against what I use. Thus the "net" meter. At the end of the year we total up the ins and the outs and figure out how I did. For seven years now, I've come out as close to even as possible, though I'm usually slightly ahead of the game. If they owe me, the meter gets reset to zero and we start over for the new year.

Interesting that you mention that you bought your panel without subsidy. I wonder...when you speak of the "price of gas" do you ever mention that you bought that *with* subsidy? And I wonder what the ROI is on that gasoline purchase? Just when will that pay you back?

I don't mean to be snide... I just like to think about things like this.

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver, I think you were responding to Telos' post not mine because I agree with you!

· · 7 years ago

For the record, I agree with you too, ex-EV1. ;)

Re. the transmission bit: You say EVs "need" them. Yet all evidence (meaming everyproduciton EV that has ever been on the road) points to the contrary. Yes, if a dragless, weightless, costless, sizeless transmission could be employed there would be some measurable benefit. No question about that. But the negatives outweigh the positives in general - yes, even in the uber-expensive Tesla Roadster. Initially set up to have a 2-speed trans, it was eventually shipped with a single speed, and BETTER acceleration 1/4 mile time.

One thing that would help the efficiency of EVs tremendously more than a transmission - driver education.

· · 7 years ago

@Telos, Let me be clear: I will stipulate that a lighter vehicle will be more efficient than a heavier one. My point was that the effects of weight reduction are greater for ICE vehicles than for EVs because with EVs much of the energy can be recovered with regenerative slowing and braking. Yes, it takes energy to get going but once one has that momentum it takes relatively little to keep going, especially at slower speeds where drag is low. An EV, and certain kinds of hybrids, can recapture some of that energy for reuse when slowing. With a typical ICE car it is ALL lost as heat.

Your contention that the general public doesn't understand regenerative braking is irrelevant to me, I understand it just fine and will be happy to use it. If the general public doesn't understand it then they need to be educated about it (something Ford does well with one of their displays on the Focus EV*).

While you are correct that the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles would end up looking something like airplanes, no surprise, it does not follow that current cars can't have their Cd improved somewhat with less drastic changes. And small improvements in Cd can result in big reductions in energy use per mile, especially at higher speeds. Since a lot of driving, even just routine commuting, is done at highway speeds, this is important for EV ranges in my view.

My contention is that improvements in Cd are easier to do, and would be MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE, than weight reduction that requires exotic materials and building techniques, for example: carbon fiber composites. In applications where weight is really critical, such as aircraft, materials costs are less of a factor than the increase in efficiency they provide. For mass-produced, AFFORDABLE, cars? I think not.

That's my contention. Perhaps I'm dead wrong about it, as you suggest. I'm not an engineer, but I am a former pilot.

* I particularly like this part of the Ford Focus EV driver interface for its educational value in efficient driving:

"Ford says the designers were inspired by the “butterfly effect”, a phenomenon in which a small change, such as choosing to drive an electric vehicle, can have an enormous impact. To reinforce the message, at the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and a comparative gasoline savings achieved by driving electric."

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago


Thank you for sharing that.
I meant the subsidy as tax credit or rebate.
I want to minimize my investment, I want to other tax payer to pay some for my PV ;)

Agreed 100% on your comment about "driver education"

· · 7 years ago

@Telos (sorry dgpcolorado),
Part 1 of 2 parts:
Let me try to explain why a transmission is less useful for an EV while it is essential for an ICE vehicle:
Looking at the graph in where the torque -vs- engine speed is compared between a Tesla Roadster, a small high-performance ICE (probably a Lotus Elise), and a compact commuter car (maybe a Honda Fit). You said that power is what causes acceleration. While the output power of an engine affects its acceleration, it is actually this torque (also referred to as force or thrust) that you feel when the car throws you back while accelerating. Mathematically, power = torque X speed. Power is more what affects the top speed of a vehicle
Any motor has some maximum torque that it can produce. For an EV, the maximum torque starts as soon as you apply electricity (voltage) to the motor. With an ICE, however, looking at the graph, you don't get any torque until the engine is spinning at some particular speed (1500 - 2500 rpms per the graph). Note also that there is a 'sweet spot' for the ICE where maximum torque is achieved (6000 and 6500 rpms). For maximum acceleration, you want the ICE spinning at that rate, irregardless of what speed the wheels are turning. A transmission is a set of gears that match the wheel speed with the motor speed. This is why you must shift the gears as an ICE vehicle goes faster. In addition to maximum torque an ICE also generally has a maximum-efficiency motor speed. When driving for maximum efficiency, the transmission tries to keep the motor at this motor speed, independently of the vehicle speed. I suspect that Telos already understands this but I thought that the basic mechanics review might help other.

· · 7 years ago

Torque Part 2:
Now, we look at the Tesla Roadster torque curve. Note that it starts at some level and then remains there as the motor speed increases up to about 5500 rpms. At 550 rpms, the torque starts to drop off slowly (caused by a property called "back EMF" but we don't need to worry about that here) as speed increases. From this graph, an EV designer will select a particular gear ratio to give the desired thrust for the desired acceleration (0 to 60 mph time) at this peak torque (300 lb ft). Even a low-torque engine could cause great acceleration with a low-enough gear ratio (remember that a person can provide enough force to lift a car using a jack) but the maximum speed will be achieved very quickly (I don't pick the car up very fast on a jack).
What I can't find good graphs or data of is motor efficiency comparisons between the EV and the ICE, however, my understanding is that maximum efficiency for both are around their maximum torque point. Hybrid hypermilers exploit this as strong>SHOULD PHEVs (GM blew this with the Volt for apparently stupid reasons).

· · 7 years ago

Transmissions Part 3
Adding a transmission to an EV would allow one to shift the gears so that a faster vehicle speed was achieved as the engine speed reaches the end of its flat part (~5500 rpms). As darelldd pointed out, Tesla tried this initially. This gave them the low-speed torque to get a great 0-60 acceleration time and then they shifted so it could go faster than it would normally go at around that shift point.
The neat little secret of an EV, however, is that the more efficient the electric motor, the higher that maximum torque is. This is unlike with an ICE, where the efficiency goes down as the maximum torque increases.
In summary:
ICE: big motor => high torque => low efficiency => poor mpg
EV: big motor => high torque => high efficiency => great mpg-e
Therefore, if you want an EV with good acceleration and good top speed, you put the biggest motor in it that the battery and power electronics can handle. There will be a top speed (even with an infinitely large motor) but that is actually limited by the ability of the battery to deliver power to the motor. Battery power delivery is generally caused by how hot the battery gets or how much damage you're willing to accept. This is a reason many experts are leery of Nissan's decision not to cool the batteries.
I'm sure this is way more than most wanted to hear but I hope it may help to adjust folks' thinking from ICE to EV. What's good for an ICE is not necessarily good for an EV. This is also probably a reason that ICE car companies are so hesitant to move to EVs. There is so much new stuff for them to learn that they may not actually understand with ICEs but are just used to the ICE results.

· Telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ ex ev1 driver

Excellent input.
I just want to add few points;

Electric motors: there are three main motor designs, wire wounded DC motor, AC induction motor and brushless permanent magnet motor. Then there are motor controllers which is more complicated than motors and sometime cost lot more than motors.
The efficiency vs RPM vs torque curves are quite different in different type of the motor design.
Other main factor is pure economics.  Some high performance motor can be very expensive.  After all, car manufacturer are all in for making the money.

You are right about using large motors to solve power problem but you have to think about the cost of the motor and the controller.

Then there are very large cost difference between ICE and electric motors.
The electric motor with controller could cost 5- 10 X more than ICE.


Currently, there are three main types out there. The lead acid, Nimh and Lithium.
Again they all have their advantages and disadvantages.  There are other types pu there but it's not commercialized yet.

The main point being the capacity to discharge characteristics.
The capacity to discharge rate is not linear at all.  The faster you discharge them, capacity becomes lower.

For example, let's say you have a 100amp/hr capacity lead acid battery, if you discharge 1 amp/hr, you will discharge for 1 hour but if you discharge at the rate of 100  am/hr, you will be lucky to discharge for 20-30 min.

So you may have only 50% capacity when you discharge at very high rate like EVs especially at stop to start.  The heavier the car, you will discharge at higher rate. 
Just pure physics.

The lithium batteries are lot better but every manufacture have different design and manufacturing processes. And have all have different internal resistances.

This why cells heat up at higher discharge rate and some requires cooling.
The one of the reason EV manufacturer use ultra capacitors is for this reason. 

Basically, lower the internal resistance of battery, less you have to worry about this.

Then, there is the issue of the cell variation due to manufacturing process. So you have to match the cells.  If you vary a lot, some cells discharge more than others.
That's whole different story, I won't get into that. 

I am not sure about this but i heard one of the reason Tesla did not use the transmission was because they could not get one to work right.
I know this for sure, without the disengagement of the power during the shift and high torque,  it's not a easy solution.

But anything is possible if you spend lots of money but you have to make money to have a viable business.

It's fine balance.

· · 7 years ago

Wow! you've pretty much hit the entire EV system. I want to start wholehearted agreeing with your last sentence that it's a fine balance but it isn't too fine. EVs give us a lot of leeway that we're not used to dealing with in the ICE world. I'll break this down piece by piece so it will hopefully fit.
You're right that there are various types and they all have different characteristics. I haven't seen any clear difference between the types that completely eliminates any as long as they don't have brushes and take advantage of modern power electronics for control.
I think that your economics of the motors must be biased either towards ICE assumptions or towards low-volume industrial or aerospace experience. Because an electric motor is a very simple thing containing very few part, large electric motors are fairly cheap to build in high volumes and don't really get that much more expensive as they get bigger. The most expensive parts of motor building are the castings and winding the copper, both of which can be fully automated, reducing the expensive touch labor.
The price lb-ft/$ is less than linear ie, doubling the torque doesn't quite double the price. Since a very powerful electric motor can be built for a couple of hundred dollars, doubling that still makes it cheaper than even the smallest ICE. Compare those few motor parts with all the valves, cams, rings, cylinders, ... of an ICE. EVs are naturally an order of magnitude CHEAPER than ICE.
next motor controllers:

· · 7 years ago

motor controllers:
A modern motor controller has 2 parts, a controller side and the power electronics side. The power electronics side are mainly transistors, coils, and capacitors. All of these are very big ones and fairly sophisticated so they aren't going to be the $0.01 junk out of most consumer electronics but, in large quantites, they aren't $100 items either. They can be assembled using fairly standard automated circuit assembly techniques.
The controller side are very simple microcontrollers and perhaps a few analog and digital control componets that cost pennys each and can be assembled on any standard, cheap surface mount assembly line. Short of filling reels with components and taking finished products off the line, no human really needs to touch anything on the line. This reduces the cost tremendously.
next batteries:

· · 7 years ago

I agree with your basic assessment that there are 3 types under consideration today and will add that lead is the cheapest, mainly because it is a commodity product with hundreds of millions produced annually. NiMH is controlled by its owner, Chevron-Texaco, hence its availability for use in EVs isn't necessarily in the interests of its owners. Li-ion uses Lithium, the lightest metal and has pretty much cleaned up the entire market for portable electronics. There's no reason to think it won't for EVs too but I'm open minded.
I'll pick at your discharge discussion: Remember, we discharge at Amps (or Watts) and measure energy capacity in Amp hour (or Watt hour) or the amount of energy required to draw 1 Amp (or Watt) for 1 hour. Therefore, I believe you meant to say that if we discharge a 100 Ah battery at 1 Amp, it will last 1 hour - I disagree: at 1 Amp, it will run for 100 hours. Generally batteries have a rated capacity at 1C or discharging at the current that will allow them to fully discharge in 1 hour so your 100 Ah battery probably assumes it is discharged at 100 A. The specified discharge rate is something one needs to look at when evaluating batteries as 1C isn't necessarily what the battery designer is targetting. For an EV a 1C discharge would only get you about 60 miles on a charge. Therefore with a 120 mile EV you'd want a battery that was optimized to discharge at a little over C/2.
Next: Heavier -vs- lighter for batteries

· · 7 years ago

Heavier -vs- lighter for batteries:
I agree that a heavier vehicle will cause its range to decrease more during stop-and-go than a lighter vehicle. This, however, is not the only impact on where the battery's energy goes. In constant stop-and-go driving this is true, however, if all the braking is done using regenerative braking a portion of the energy required for stopping is recovered. The heavier the vehicle, the more energy that is recovered.
I agree that lower internal resistance in the batteries will increase the amount of energy that can be recovered and that eventually, we might hope to see ultra-capacitors used to store regenerative braking energy since they have essentially zero internal resistance, or for the layman, less energy is lost while charging or discharging.
Ultra-capacitors have very low energy density, ie it takes a lot of space and weight to carry much energy in an ultra-capacitor, less than 1/10 that of Li-ion batteries so I wouldn't expect to see more than a few seconds of acceleration energy being stored in them.
Another problem with Ultre-capacitors is that they have a very steep IV curve, meaning that their voltage varies a lot. Fairly sophisticated DC-DC converters are required that vary across a wide voltage and current swing, something that makes them less efficient. This offsets some of the energy advantage gained by the lower internal resistance of ultra-capacitors - but I'm still open minded about this one.
Cell variation can be improved a lot by tightening down the manufacturing processes. This is something that is more feasible in higher volume mass production.
next Tesla's transmission:

· · 7 years ago

Tesla's transmission:
There are a lot of reasons floating around about why Tesla took the transmission out of the design of the Roadster. Here is my summary of what I've heard with some of my own opinion sprinkled in:
1) Silicon Valley folks can't build something as sophisticated as a transmission. This excuse is very popular around Detroit as they dieing auto industry lamely seeks to put down anyone who is making them look outdated and incompetant.
2) They wanted their Roadster to do 0-60 in under 4 seconds and top out at ~150 mph. They later discovered that their powertrain couldn't put out enough power to sustain the wind drag above 125 mph for very long without having to be reduced anyway and they realized that 125 mph was pretty fast anyway.
3) As a small, Silicon Valley startup that had never built a car, that planned to use a technology that the ICE industry said wouldn't work, that had very little funding, whose product would only upset the big transmission buyers, no serious transmission company would even speak with Tesla initially. The specialty transmission designers who focused on performance cars couldn't get them to last more than about 10,000 miles.
4) They wanted it to shift automatically, very fast, under full load in order to get a good 0-6 time but that put too much stress so they wouldn't last over 10,000 miles
5) The transmission idea was a risk-mitigation measure because they weren't sure they could get enough power out of their battery+controller+motor to deliver their desired 0-60 time and get their high top-end speed. They had launched a parallel effort to develop a more-efficient, higher power digital controller that ended up solving the problem by driving enough power into the motor so the transmission wasn't worth the money that would be required to deal with the other challengs it was presenting.
6) The transmission was an expensive component with little path to price reduction and they didn't know how they were going to make money selling the roadster for $100K with it.
All are, of course, welcome to believe whichever story is correct but, I for one believe that a little of all of them are correct. Note, however, that none of these indicate that the car would be more efficient or cheaper with a transmission. There's also no indication that the Tesla Roadster has any trouble performing up to 125 mph and I don't know anyone who has a need (or even strong desire) to go any faster than 125 mph during their normal day today.

· · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 - I liked that transmission installment the best. ;) And for the record, I agree that it is likely a little bit of all of the above. In the end, just not worth the effort of an expensive. heavy, balky transmission.

· telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ ex ev1 driver

Great write up. I love it !
Thanks for clearing up on Tesla's transmission.

It was my typo on 1 hour, It should been 100 hr.

"For example, let's say you have a 100amp/hr capacity lead acid battery, if you discharge 1 amp/hr, you will discharge for 100 hour but if you discharge at the rate of 100 am/hr, you will be lucky to discharge for 20-30 min"

The capacity of a lead-acid battery is not a fixed quantity but varies according to how quickly it is discharged. An empirical relationship exists between discharge rate and capacity, known as Peukert's law.

Peukert's law, presented by the German scientist W. Peukert in 1897, expresses the capacity of a lead-acid battery in terms of the rate at which it is discharged. As the rate increases, the battery's available capacity decreases.

The Li-ion battery is much better but it does have some non-linearity.

This forum is great, I glad I found it.

Thanks guys

· · 7 years ago

@telos "Nimh is more safer but little heavy. Lithium ion battery is unsafe except Iron phosphate so far but heavier than Lithium Cobalt."

You know there are other Li chemistries, right ? Li-Mn that Leaf and Focus ev and volt use is very safe.

BTW, this thread has gone completely off topic. I'd like to hear more about Focus EV rather than recycled myths about EVs.

· telos (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ EVNow

Yes, I know, we kind got carried away. Sorry...
But I hope it was educational for some people and some were bore to death.
This stuff is not taught by school. You can't even pay for these stuff, for those who has interest.

Yeah, there are so many choices on batteries but I had a bad experience with Lithium Cobalt. Other than standard test, I do two destructive tests. All do but I don't trust the manufacturer specs.

I drill through the battery(hard to stick nails through some batt) @ full charge, half charge., This simulates the crash. Sometimes, I pour water on it.
I also test for over voltage charge to simulate charger failure.

Please do not try this at home. You will burn your house down.

Iron Phoshate was pretty safe but still heavier and lower power density.
I have not tested the Li-Mn. I think they safer.

Nimh was too expensive for the their weight at the time. So, I did not considered it.

Ultimate, it's safety and the COST for me.
They need to be around $15 for Kw/hr.

Another note, when I say "general public" none of the people in this forum fits in this catagory.

· JP (not verified) · 7 years ago

Where did you come up with the $30,000 base price? I have not seen that anywhere?

· Tom l (not verified) · 7 years ago

Can all EVs use 480 volt charging?

It is key to building a real network

· Jmandrumz (not verified) · 7 years ago

I grew up in Washington state. People just don't think much about power problems. The dams produce so much clean power that they've been selling it to other states for decades with the surplus on hand. There's no question that these dams have caused other environmental problems, particularly with fisheries. However, remember that they were built long before environmentalism even existed. I believe that a huge portion of the stimulus should have been many, many new hydroelectric projects. It's the only way to generate power on such a massive scale with NO greenhouse pollution.

I'm excited to see how the Focus is received. A friend of mine has a '99 Ranger EV. Ford had an economy setting all the way back then. The thing still runs like it's new. NO problems with the battery. He's been driving it every day for 4 years. Even though it only has a 40 mile range, with one charger at work and one at home he's able to get tons of work done. Operating cost? Around $20/month in electricity. This is the time. If we stay vigilant and stay vocal, we can push this conversion through. I'd like to see the US at the forefront of green technology manufacturing. Every green energy product that's made here keeps the revenue, and the jobs, here as well.

· · 7 years ago

I'm not convinced that we need to build more hydroelectric generation facilties. Those definitely do mar the planet and cause damage that we may not foresee. I suspect that if we keep the hydroelectric capability we have now but use it to provide energy when other, intermittantly producing renewable source such as wind and solar aren't able to produce, we can probably supply all America's energy needs renewably.
Unfortunately, today, hydroelectric power is one of the cheapest sources of electricity so it is often used as a base-load instead of as a peak load.

· Michael (not verified) · 7 years ago

"This is unlike with an ICE, where the efficiency goes down as the maximum torque increases.
In summary:
ICE: big motor => high torque => low efficiency => poor mpg"

Sorry. No; This is just not true. There are other variables involved in efficiency. Just because an engine is large, does not make it less thermally efficient. In fact, in extreme case, the opposite is true. Also torque is not an indicator of efficiency at all.

· Michael (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ ex-EV1Driver

"In addition to maximum torque an ICE also generally has a maximum-efficiency motor speed. When driving for maximum efficiency, the transmission tries to keep the motor at this motor speed, independently of the vehicle speed."

Also not true. An automatic transmission will try to achieve a balance between fuel consumption and needed power. That RPM is usually well below the peak torque point.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.