Friday, December 5, 2014

Long Term Test: 2014 Ford Focus Electric post #1

So the time has come to reveal the newest addition to our long-term fleet. This car is taking the place of the TSX in my personal garage and is to be the primary car for me and my wife over the next few years. While the TSX served us well during our cross-country trip, the lease on it was coming up and the cost of having to register it in California was going to be fairly high, which put us in the odd spot of deciding what would be the most cost effective thing to do: replace the car or just pay for the registration for a few brief months. In the end, we examined a fairly broad variety of cars and developed a set of criteria that had to be met. Fuel economy/environmental friendliness was made the top criteria followed by practicality, technology, and value. A set of four finalists was lined up and we ranked each car. The outcome shocked me, to say the least...


Yes, despite my brother's strong misgivings about EVs, I have added a Ford Focus Electric to our long-term fleet. 

Unlike West Brother, the idea of owning an EV has never been that much of a stretch for me. When the Tesla Model S first hit the market, it became one of the cars I lusted after that was on the edge of being attainable,  if only just barely. And after living on the East Coast for a decade, driving progressively less each successive year, it became obvious that the range afforded by an EV was actually more than sufficient for our day-to-day needs. Of course I realize that long trips would require some advance planning or access to another car, but having relocated back to the LA area meant that we would have access to several vehicles to satisfy those situations. Plus, there is always my motorcycle.

The Ford Focus Electric (FFE for short) was not actually the first alternative fuel vehicle that we considered. In fact, the idea to even consider EVs and plug-in hybrids was driven by the fact that I had seen some outrageous deals on the Chevy Volt, one of the more popular options for people looking for that intermediary step from a gasoline car to an electric vehicle. While the deal on the Volt did not quite pan out (most of the ones with ridiculous incentives were the very base models), it did start me down the path of looking at other possibilities. That led to a bit of research on the Ford line-up of plug-in vehicles and eventually to the FFE.

Locating one was surprisingly easy as several pockets of inventory existed throughout Southern California and the dealers were being given huge incentives to help get these off their lots. We were stunned when between the incentives on the table and the state and federal credits, we were able to get the car for less than what we were paying on the TSX each month while practically being paid to take the car off the lot. On top of that, throw in the added benefit of HOV access stickers and free use of the Metro Express Lanes to sweeten the pot even further. There are a huge number of perks being thrown at those who are willing to take the dive into EV ownership and they make for a rather compelling case.

Among the many reasons why the FFE came out on top was the fact that unlike the Nissan Leaf or the Volt,  the FFE looks just like a regular Focus. Aside from the few styling elements, one would be hard pressed to distinguish the electron-powered version from the gasoline-powered one. This is a good thing as the current generation of the Focus is a great looking small car, plus the fact the that the all-electric drive train is stealthily hidden beneath the stylish looking body. On the inside, the presence of the oft-maligned MyFordTouch system initially gave me pause, but has proven to be a wonderful addition and not that difficult to use at all.

While it is not the scorching hot sleeper wagon I had hoped for, it is a wonderfully pleasant daily driver that takes us where we need in near total silence. After driving our first thousand miles on the car, both my wife and I are quite pleased with the choice and believe there are many adventures ahead for us. With a Tesla hopefully in our future, this is a chance to make sure that the all-electric lifestyle suits us, especially in the urban sprawl of Southern California.