#FordCES 2013: Country Club Living

2013 Ford Focus Electric
Grace and Vanessa loved it

This is the 2013 Ford Focus Electric.  I like it a lot.  I thought about getting a Fiesta.  Focus is roomier.  It’s a million times better than the previous generation. The ST is mad sexy. The electric?  I think I have to pass.  It’s all about sticker shock.  Forty grand base price?  Ouch.  That’s a 23K uptick in base price, notwithstanding all that glorious technology. A $300/mo. lease?  I could swing that, but I learned my lesson, leasing a minivan last decade. It’s not for me.  YMMV. It’s certainly a better car for a better price than the EV1 ever was.

That was before I went to the configurator to build and price one. With incentives and (one presumes) a tax credit, the price drops around $31.6K.  The C-max (to the left) I like so much came in at close to $35K.  The 2013 Ford Fusion hybrid to the right, built my way, comes in at around $31.6K, too. A Focus ST would be a hair under 30.

So, what have we learned so far?  Collect all your data, get to the summary page of the configurator, and then talk to a dealer you trust. (Sorry, Tex.)

However, as nice as this car is, and as competitively priced as it is, after incentives, comes the real question: utility. It has a range of 76 miles +/-.  Using my highly advanced mathematical skills, that means 38 miles, out and back.  I can go to the end of the county and back. Not to Flag; not even to Tucson.  Vegas and San Diego are out of the question.

I have friends that are shopping hybrids.  The wife preferred the C-MAX to a similar Prius.  Then she drove a Fusion Hybrid and preferred that to them both, as well as to a Camry hybrid. She’s coming down from an Acura MDX.  In advising them, I said pick a car that does 85% of what you need.  I.e., don’t buy a van because of one trip to Detroit.  Don’t buy a Ferrari because of one date night you hope to have. This standard still doesn’t make a Focus Electric work for the wife, because she drives more during a day, and can’t spare the 3 hour charge time, as nice as it is to wean from petrol.  This would work better for the husband.

It would even work for me, but as a parent of a teenager, I get to preach one thing and act in a completely inconsistent way.  So, I am more likely to get another Mustang that is mostly a daily driver, than to indulge my inner petro-conscience and drive a strictly electric car, no matter how nice.

Dear Ford:

Please build a C-Max Energi SVO with 475 bhp (or electric equivalent), AWD. 18″ Cragars and a panoramic sunroof.  And seats and a cargo hold that resist every negative aspect of my dogs’ existence.

XX

All of us in the melting igloo that is Phoenix, this weekend.

If you could see tomorrow

the way it looks to us today, you’d say incredible…

Ford Motor Company jingle, ca. 1980 (hyping the 1981 Escort world car“)

Or, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. Or, Why yes, they’re real.

Bertter than a Toyota Prius
What to drive when Ford flies you to Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show

This is the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi “MAV (multi-activity vehicle).”  This is the plug in hybrid version – there is a “conventional” hybrid as well.  The engines are the same; battery output is not.  Not to piddle on a couple billion dollars of R&D, engineering and marketing (words like  MAV and “Energi” don’t coin themselves, you know), but basically, the car comes in Prius (regular) and Volt flavors. Except better.  Here’s why:

Another feature of the C-MAX Energi is called EV mode. This is a button that lets you switch the vehicle between EV Now, Auto EV and EV Later. So you can choose which mode to drive in – electric only, gasoline only, or a combination of gas and electric.

Kevin from Ford
Kevin from Ford spent 20 minutes translating the story of hybrids into the language of 10 mpg Continental drivers. And explaining power tailgates.

I put a couple miles on this fish, in and around the LV Convention Center.

  • plug in, rather than cordless.  At least you don’t have to rewire your house.  You can just plug it in overnight, just like a smartphone.  But, you’re never stranded.  Unlike a Volt, it’s designed to use the engine like an engine when you want or it needs to.
  • “is it on?” Hit the start button and nothing mechanical happens.
  • When Car and Driver tested the electric Rolls, they heard “an occasional hint of dynamo hum, but for the most part, the drivetrain dialogue was overwhelmed by the hiss of tires on pavement and the whoosh of air flowing past the side windows.”  Ditto.
  • At city speeds, the tire hum over the hard concrete of Vegas was a noticeable sound, if only because it had no audio competition. The engine never fired up.
  • We were not allowed to test its maximum dynamic capabilities in a high school parking lot. it was solid over bumps and softer riding than a Scion xB on 16s.
  • Roomy.  The cowl is low, so the front is airy.  The back seat was comfortable and roomy for our camera guy, a big man with a massive video camera.
  • Yes, I called it a fish.  That metal middle grill and the big headlights seal it.
  • Yes, I would buy one.

In four words:  Better Than Any Prius. (Or, “Best Escort Wagon Ever.”)