Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electric

People and batteries both operate best within certain ambient temperatures. Electric car manufacturers like Ford have found that enclosed, temperature controlled Lithium ion battery packs provide the best performance for electric vehicles.

Shown, at left, is the Ford Focus Electric prototype used on The Jay Leno Show, which was donated to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/Ford Motor Company)

A liquid cooled and heated power pack means the Focus Electric will function whether its struggling through the cold and snow of the Lake States or working its way through the oppressive heat of our Southwestern deserts.

"Batteries are similar to people as they both achieve maximum performance working under moderate, unchanged temperatures," said Sherif Marakby, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. "Using a liquid-heated battery system allows Ford to keep the Focus Electric's battery at a moderate temperature and improve performance whether you are charging or driving in a cold climate."

If you have a digital camera or a flashlight and live where the weather gets cold, you know full well how wintry weather can quickly rob a battery of its charge. Lithium ion batteries don’t fare much better in extreme heat, so a liquid modified temperature system assures stabile power and a reliable range through the array of conditions electric cars will have to function within.

"A liquid-heated battery can accept a charge faster from the regenerative braking that recaptures kinetic energy and sends it back to the battery, essentially providing longer range for the customer in real world cold weather conditions," Marakby added. "Additionally, since acceleration in an electric vehicle comes from the power available in the battery, the customer will have more power available if the battery is warmer."

The system will also warm the batteries when charging on cold days or in an unheated garage.

"Even when you're parking in cold temperatures, as long as the vehicle is plugged in, you will warm up the battery. Basically, customers will have the capability they need right off the bat. They won't have to wait for the car to warm up."

One thing necessary to sales of electric vehicles is building the public’s trust they will not be stranded far from a power supply – as if petrol burning vehicles never ran out of gas. Nevertheless, a temperature controlled power supply is paramount to a definable range.

"Focus Electric wasn't built just for consumers in warm cities with consistent temperatures," Marakby concluded. "We want our customers to know they can count on their electric vehicle whether they live in a cold or warm climate."

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