With Focus Electric, Ford goes for holistic charging, app, interface approach

Ford on Friday will unveil its new Focus Electric vehicle, the first installment of five electric vehicles to be delivered by 2013. Ford is launching a new app and Best Buy charging station partnership to boost adoption.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Ford on Friday unveiled its new Focus Electric vehicle, the first installment of five electric vehicles to be delivered by 2013. Ford is also launching a series of features and services ranging from apps to charger installation to enhance adoption.

The automaker is also hoping that a version of the MyFord Touch technology and MyFord Mobile app will ease car charging and monitoring. Overall, Ford is going for an ecosystem designed to make electric vehicle (EV) ownership easier.

For instance, Ford said it will team up with Best Buy to offer a 240-volt charge station and support via the electronic retailer's Geek Squad unit and licensed contractors. Retrofits, which can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, are a major hang-up for EVs. Ford said that Focus Electric buyers can work with dealers to set up a Best Buy installation appointment. Best Buy's Geek Squad will then do an "electrical audit" and schedule installation.

When all of the Focus Electric moving parts are digested, the Best Buy partnership may be the most important item. A unit that isn't permanent, has a single point of contact and will run $1,499---a big chunk of change, but still cheaper than current options---has appeal.

In addition, Ford is making it loud and clear that it is going after the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf with the Focus Electric, which will debut in late 2011. Among the key points made by Ford:

  • The Focus Electric's charging time will be half the time it takes to charge the Leaf using a 240-volt station.
  • Miles per gallon equivalent will be better than the Volt.
  • The Focus Electric has a top speed of 84 mph.
  • The Focus Electric will have a wall-mount charger that's optional.
  • A user interface in-cabin and via smartphone that will allow owners to personalize, plan chips, cool the vehicle and be as efficient as possible.

According to Ford, the MyFord Mobile app will give owners constant contact with the Focus Electric. Features include remote charge monitoring and current range, alerts on charging requirements and vehicle data downloads.  One interesting feature is a MapQuest interface that will maintain a database of charging stations.

The MyFord Mobile app will be available on major smartphone platforms and support HTML5.

Let's roll a few images:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards