Ford Focus Electric Under NHTSA Investigation For Vehicle Shut-Down

By · September 11, 2013

Ford confirmed yesterday that 12 complaints filed against its all-electric Focus with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have prompted an official safety investigation. Complainants said their cars, 2012 and 2013 Ford Focus Electric, have suddenly displayed a “Stop Safely Now” message on their dashboards while being operated. As soon as the message is displayed, complainants say their cars’ on-board electronics systems “stop responding,” forcing them to pull over at the side of the road.

Although none of the reported incidents have resulted in accident or injury, six of the complaints cite cases where the car involved was traveling at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour when the malfunction occurred. The problem has been incorrectly termed “stalling“ by several news outlets.

Ford Focus Electric

Several threads on the popular Ford Focus Electric owners’ forum, are attempting to track when and where the warnings occur on affected cars.

Owner and EV advocate Michael Thwaite, who owns four electric cars including a Ford Focus Electric, said that, while the experience is unsettling, owners have developed a sure-fire way to reboot their Focus EV when the “Stop Safely Now” screen appears.

“First, relax,” he said. “If you’re traveling at speed, put on your right hand indicator to pull over. If you’re already stopped somewhere safe, put on your hazard lights. Avoid braking if you’re still moving, as your car will coast for a while before it stops.”

He continued: “Once you’re somewhere safe, put the car in neutral, or park if you’re in a place where it could roll away. Then switch off the car and watch all the lights on the dashboard go out. After this, open the drivers’ side door and then shut it again to reset the car. You should then be able to put your foot on the brake pedal and hit start as normal. The car should return to its usual ready-to-drive state.”

At this time, neither Ford nor NHTSA have warned owners to not drive their Focus Electric cars, although owners should familiarize themselves with the suggested course of action should it occur while driving. NHTSA will continue its investigation into the issue, aided by engineers from Ford.

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