Cloud, DevOps, Evangelism

End of an Era - Sort Of

No - I'm not leaving Dell ๐Ÿ˜Š.

3 years ago I bought my first fully electric car โ€“ a 2014 Ford Focus Electric. You can read about my initial impressions, but today is for my final ones, because my 3 year lease is up.

I've been quite happy with the Focus Electric, overall.

Driving Dynamics : I always trusted the car. Like the ICE Focus and the Focuses (Foci?) before it, the Ford Focus Electroc (FFE) has a pretty good, patient, predictable suspension. Now, it does feel like a *heavy* focus, which it is, but not so heavy as to feel unsafe. Pickup was acceptable (not great, but again โ€“ I never felt unsafe), and braking was solid. Occasionally there were surprising moments where the regenerative braking stopped engaging because the battery was full, and then braking force decreasedโ€ฆwithout warning. I wish that Ford had included a warning that others cars do to prevent this.

Comfort : The FFE is an entry level car. As a result it has squeaks and rattles that are normal for that level of car. That being said, the seats were comfortable, easy to adjust and the great had (IMO) very good sight lines. On the downsides, the heater was anemic (though the heated seats mostly made up for that), and the interior plastics could have used a small bump up. Of course, Ford sells the FFE as a compliance car, so they don't really want to put that much effort into going above and beyond its 'base' car.

Infotainment : Man โ€“ just like everyone else says โ€“ the Ford Sync 2.0 system is just stunningly bad. While I didn't have the crashes everyone suggested I would (maybe 1 crash in 3 years), the system is frustratingly slow and unreliable. The Bluetooth audio suffers dropouts, the charging for the phone was slow (500ma!) and the screen response just terrible. The vast majority of my time spent was with my phone mounted effectively in front of the main screen using BT audio for everything and Apple Maps for guidance.

Charging & Range: I will admit I spent much of the last 3 years in some low level of range anxiety. With a stated range of 76 miles (which was about accurate), it meant that my 40 mile drive to the EMC office and back required a charge somewhere along the way. Usually that was at the office, but there were times where the office chargers were fullโ€ฆ.all day. There were at least 8-10 days where I had to stay late because I needed to charge to get home. Now โ€“ the charging infrastructure in the Bay Area is pretty goof, but the FFE only supports Level 2 charging at 6.6kW โ€“ or about a half mile of range per minute attached. Specifically, the FFE doesn't support either of the fast chargings specifications (CHaDeMO or CCS/SAE), which can charge a car to 80% in about 30 minutes.

All of that being said โ€“ Ford never sold the car suggesting it could do more. The car absolutely met the design guidelines and promises it made on the sticker.

Over approximately 29000 miles of Bay Area commuter driving, I achieved an average of 275 Wh/mi efficiency (or in the more modern parlance, 3.63mi/kWh), which is *exactly* what Ford estimates the car will do โ€“ 122 MPGe.

Final Thoughts: There are 2 other things I think are worth mentioning:

  1. 1)Trunk space: Because the Focus was not designed as an EV, the batteries are effectively mounted in the trunk, taking up a huge amount of space. It definitely hindered my ability to go to Ikea and Home Depot ๐Ÿ˜Š.
  2. 2)The amount of data Ford provides on the car via their website is stunning โ€“ and it even has a pretty decent REST API.
  3. 3)HOV Lane access (because CA allows BEV cars to use HOVs without restriction) is worth thousands of dollars a year to me ๐Ÿ˜Š

Conclusion: I'm happy with the time and money I spent on this car over the last 3 years. It did its job reliably. It did exactly what it said on the sticker โ€“ no more no less. And I can respect that.

In my next post I'll talk about its replacement ๐Ÿ˜Š