Ford Focus EVEnlarge Photo
Plug-in electric cars are the next frontier for green car buyers. Hybrids like the 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Honda Insight will duke it out this year, but you can't charge them up from wall current.
GM has been promoting its plans for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in car with an auxiliary engine, for more than two years. In January, Ford startled the Detroit Auto Show by saying it would offer a fully electric Focus in 2011.
Now we've had a chance to drive a development version of that car, which is engineered by supplier Magna, which will also build several thousand copies of the car to be sold at Ford dealers.
We were particularly impressed with the refinement and lack of noise. Most development vehicles haven't been tweaked by noise-vibration-harshness (NVH) engineers, so they squeak, roar, whine, clunk, or howl. The Focus EV may be the most exemplary mule we've driven.
Ford Focus EV - the power electronics sit above the electric motorEnlarge Photo
Electric cars generate their highest torque from 0 rpm, and the Focus's motor was able to spin the inside front wheel when accelerating hard around a corner. The brakes were nicely integrated, with no noticeable transition between regenerative braking and the friction brakes.