When it comes to building cars, there will always be debate over the proper ranking of form and function relative to one another. In the case of electric cars, function is winning, or at least it was. Ford's newly electrified Focus is poised to bring some style to the Kilowatt Wars.
While the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, and the Focus Electric's most direct competitor, the Nissan Leaf, have proven themselves technical marvels, none has garnered glowing praise for their aesthetics. Looking good and slipping through the air seem to be mutually exclusive. Ford, however, is breaking the mold with a Focus Electric it claims will offer all the capability of its electric competition and look good doing it.
It wasn't an especially difficult feat to accomplish. With the stylish 2012 Focus hatchback already built, Ford could direct its energy towards the electric powertrain. The result is a 100-kilowatt AC motor under the hood capable of laying down 123 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. The power flows forth from a 23 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery mounted behind the rear seats, and the electrical-turned-mechanical energy reaches the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. Once it's all on the ground, Ford says the car is good for a top speed of 84 mph.
The Focus is already a front wheel-drive car, so Ford really just needed to find a place to put the battery. The Focus Electric uses the same MacPherson strut front suspension and "Control Blade" multi-link rear suspension as its gas- and diesel-powered counterparts, though it's likely been retuned to accommodate the extra 750 or so pounds the electric drivetrain adds to the curb weight. The Focus Electric also uses the same electric power steering system as its fossil fuel brethren, and Ford says it's been tuned to deliver the same driving experience. Naturally, the battery and motor cooling systems and the HVAC system are all electrically powered, but it's not a difference you'd likely notice, just like you won't notice that the length and width of the vehicle have changed by tenths of an inch.