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Focus Energi??

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This article on a potential Focus Energi authored by John Voelcker was posted on Green Car Reports. He's at the Detroit Auto Show this week, and his reporting is generally pretty accurate:

 

Focus Energi

 

Anyone heard anything?? Sounds interesting.

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This article on a potential Focus Energi authored by John Voelcker was posted on Green Car Reports. He's at the Detroit Auto Show this week, and his reporting is generally pretty accurate:

 

Focus Energi

 

Anyone heard anything?? Sounds interesting.

They need to stick the Energi system into the new MKC, even if it was only FWD. The lack of hybrid probably will not hurt sales but it would have done wonders for the brand perception of what Lincoln is becoming - esp on the coasts where the MKZ hybrid is selling so well. A plugin compact SUV in California would be HUGE.

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The $27,000 price for a Focus Energi heavily undercuts C-Max Energi, I wonder if Ford wants to do that......

 

Agree with MKC hybrid comment but I don't think Lincoln needs the Energi variants just yet...

Edited by jpd80

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agree, a hybrid for the MKC

but

I'd really like a specialty MKE based on the Grand C-Max's longer wheelbase,

in plug-in and pure electric...

...to outclass both the ELR & Tesla

 

 

Like I've been ranting lately

imho an expensive drivetrain belongs in a Luxury Brand's vehicle

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Go for guts and glory MK-Focus with 2.0 Ecoboost. and maybe a 2.0 DI Hybrid both starting at $30,000.......

 

Lincoln needs to start taking it to other Luxury brands by doing what Ford does best...

Edited by jpd80

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They need to stick the Energi system into the new MKC, even if it was only FWD. The lack of hybrid probably will not hurt sales but it would have done wonders for the brand perception of what Lincoln is becoming - esp on the coasts where the MKZ hybrid is selling so well. A plugin compact SUV in California would be HUGE.

A MKC engeri would kick ass! One customer base Lincoln is dying to make inroads with are coastal consumers, where Ford's market share is weaker than the middle of the country. California would be perfect for the energi (climate wise, maybe not commute wise), it would give drivers HOV access. BMW's are about as common out there as Honda's, so people for sure have the money. Ford could nab a sub-segment with more or less no competition.

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The $27,000 price for a Focus Energi heavily undercuts C-Max Energi, I wonder if Ford wants to do that......

 

Agree with MKC hybrid comment but I don't think Lincoln needs the Energi variants just yet...

 

Sales of C-Max Energi seems to have plateaued... Ford can either lower the price of the car to drive sales,but that will damage the resale value and create negative ownership experience for existing owners; Or it could essentially do the same thing (lowering price) with a Focus Energi, which won't have the same negative resale value impact (well... not as much of a direct impact) to existing C-Max Energi owners.

 

With Focus Energi in the mix, Ford can probably claim the title of "most affordable plug in hybrid" and undercut the Prius PHEV by a bit, without any backlash or impact to C-Max. Not to mention, Ford will have 3 PHEV models... the widest selection of such cars in the market.

 

Edit: also Focus Energi is apparently aimed primarily at European markets so making it also available for sale in the US is not that big of a deal in the big scheme of things.

Edited by bzcat

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Considering GM brought out the Chevrolet Cruze diesel and knocks out roughly 500 sales a month,

I think Ford is entitled to pursue possibly a more practical application of existing hybrid technology.

 

2.0 DI and Hybrid power train would be very punchy in a Focus, could have performance and economy..

 

Could a Focus energi undercut a Volt and can GM be coaxed into lowering its price to compete?

Edited by jpd80

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Volt is more expensive than Prius PHEV and C-Max Energi so yes... a Focus Energi is surely going to be the most affordable PHEV on the market.

 

The problem with Volt is that GM built a car that is far more technically advanced than what the market is demanding or expecting. As a result, it is a seriously expensive car. The car is really an engineering marvel and GM sees it as an EV with onboard generator for extended range. The problem is the consumer, and the regulatory environment at large, see the car as no more advanced than competing PHEV like Prius, Fusion, C-Max etc. And this is the issue that GM is vexing with - they made a "segment buster" product - an EV that functions like a PHEV and superior to both; but the existing consumer expectation and the regulatory framework demands that those two segments stay arms length apart.

 

I think GM really need to consider selling a Volt without the engine (as a pure EV) but I understand that the car was not designed with modular drivetrain components so it is impossible, at least in the current generation.

Edited by bzcat

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The car is really an engineering marvel

 

Really? What makes it a "marvel"? It's an ICE that runs a generator that powers electric motors and charges a battery. Locomotives were doing that 65 years ago. The only real difference between the Volt and a C-Max Energi is the size of the battery pack and the fact that the C-Max Energi is actually more efficient.

 

The advantage that the Volt has is that the ICE could be swapped out for any other type of generator - fuel cell, solar, whatever. But until that happens it's just a less efficient PHEV with a bigger battery pack.

Edited by akirby

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You are letting your bias get in the way of objective understanding of the car. The engine drives the car and/or charges the battery depending on what is more efficient. But you have accidentally proved my point about the Volt... the general consumers just don't care about the smart engineering behind it and compares it to conventional PHEV such as C-Max Energi.

Edited by bzcat

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I didn't think the Volt's engine ever charged the battery. Am I wrong about that?

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You are letting your bias get in the way of objective understanding of the car. The engine drives the car and/or charges the battery depending on what is more efficient. But you have accidentally proved my point about the Volt... the general consumers just don't care about the smart engineering behind it and compares it to conventional PHEV such as C-Max Energi.

 

It is always more efficient to drive the wheels directly from the ICE than it is to convert the ICE output into electrical energy, send it to the motor and convert it back to mechanical energy. That's why it only gets 37 mpg when the battery is depleted compared to other hybrids who get 40-50+ mpg under similar circumstances. It was never designed to drive the wheels directly - GM even bragged about it not doing that originally. Then they found out it wasn't efficient enough at high speeds to do that.

 

If you double the battery pack in a C-Max Energi you'll get a vehicle with the same battery only range as the Volt and the same or better mpg when the battery is depleted. You can drive either one infinitely on gasoline.

 

So enlighten us - what exactly does the Volt do that's so "marvelous" that a C-Max Energi can't do just as well if not better?

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So enlighten us - what exactly does the Volt do that's so "marvelous" that a C-Max Energi can't do just as well if not better?

 

I'll bite - I've spent time with both: The Volt manages hauling a twice as large battery around while maintaining a very useful cargo area. Yes, it misses out on the middle seat in the rear, but with the rear seats folded flat, they line up perfectly with the battery tunnel and you end up with a massive flat cargo floor. If I were choosing between these cars (and I'm actually thinking about pulling the trigger, but this Focus PHEV rumour has be holding out), i would definitely trade off that 5th passenger for twice the range and a useful cargo area.

 

It's not really an "engineering marvel" but the platform has at least been engineered well to accommodate the platform, something that CANNOT be said of any of the Ford plug-ins. I REALLY hope Ford turns that around for their next plug-in products (hopefully a Focus PHEV) but I haven't heard anything from Ford to reassure me of that yet.

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I'll bite - I've spent time with both: The Volt manages hauling a twice as large battery around while maintaining a very useful cargo area. Yes, it misses out on the middle seat in the rear, but with the rear seats folded flat, they line up perfectly with the battery tunnel and you end up with a massive flat cargo floor. If I were choosing between these cars (and I'm actually thinking about pulling the trigger, but this Focus PHEV rumour has be holding out), i would definitely trade off that 5th passenger for twice the range and a useful cargo area.

 

It's not really an "engineering marvel" but the platform has at least been engineered well to accommodate the platform, something that CANNOT be said of any of the Ford plug-ins. I REALLY hope Ford turns that around for their next plug-in products (hopefully a Focus PHEV) but I haven't heard anything from Ford to reassure me of that yet.

 

 

I agree they did a good job of packaging but that's because they designed a purpose built vehicle whereas Ford just did a retrofit to an existing model. But I was talking about the drivetrain itself, not cargo space or packaging.

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It is always more efficient to drive the wheels directly from the ICE than it is to convert the ICE output into electrical energy, send it to the motor and convert it back to mechanical energy. That's why it only gets 37 mpg when the battery is depleted compared to other hybrids who get 40-50+ mpg under similar circumstances. It was never designed to drive the wheels directly - GM even bragged about it not doing that originally. Then they found out it wasn't efficient enough at high speeds to do that.

 

If you double the battery pack in a C-Max Energi you'll get a vehicle with the same battery only range as the Volt and the same or better mpg when the battery is depleted. You can drive either one infinitely on gasoline.

 

So enlighten us - what exactly does the Volt do that's so "marvelous" that a C-Max Energi can't do just as well if not better?

 

You have completely validated my point that GM's engineering on the Volt is a wasted effort because the average consumer does not see any difference.

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I didn't think the Volt's engine ever charged the battery. Am I wrong about that?

 

It charges the battery at lower speed. It drives the wheels directly at highway speed.

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You have completely validated my point that GM's engineering on the Volt is a wasted effort because the average consumer does not see any difference.

 

I'm still waiting for you to explain the differences. I explained my position in detail. And I'm not an average consumer. I think average consumers have been bamboozled into thinking it is something special.

Edited by akirby

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I'm still waiting for you to explain the differences. I explained my position in detail. And I'm not an average consumer. I think average consumers have been bamboozled into thinking it is something special.

 

Regarding the powertrain - yes the Volt powertrain is fairly simple (although not quite as simple as you seem to believe - the engine sends mechanical power to the wheels above ~70mph, see here, it's GM's attempt to address the obvious efficiency disadvantage of a series hybrid that you point out) but what it accomplishes is to give people FULL EV performance, no exceptions, until your AER is used up. The Energi and the Prius PHEV are power limited in EV mode because the electric half of the powertrain isn't nearly as powerful as the one in the Volt. Now previously, I've found myself arguing on the side of Ford on this topic - i think the Energi EV performance is perfectly acceptable for commuting purposes, but I'm a self-confessed hyper-miler, who's happy to go easy on the throttle. Whether the concept of a series hybrid with a fully acceptable electric performance is worthy of being deemed an engineering marvel or not, I'm not sure - but it is very well executed and is doing an excellent job of offering the market all the advantages of a fully electric vehicle without any compromises (aside from one missing seat) and deserves to be distinguished from PHEVs based around the more familiar parallel hybrid setup.

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It charges the battery at lower speed. It drives the wheels directly at highway speed.

 

The confusion here might be that the engine never recharges the battery back up to 100%. Once the engine comes on, it will charge the battery off and on to keep up with demand, but it leaves the battery down near "empty" until you get home as it's cheaper to fill up on electrons from the grid than on gasoline.

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Volt has normal, sport and mountain mode, the latter is charge sustaining which forces the ICE to charge the battery and behave like a fully charged PHEV hybrid.

The advantages are that in highway driving, mountain mode is way more efficient than in the city but before you reach your destination, there's a few miles

of electric only range that can be used in city driving by switching to normal mode.

 

,As mentioned above, I have the feeling that Volt is suffering by being an early adopter and that PHEVs are catching up rapidly

by offering a better balance of range and cost that's seen as much more palatable to the markets. Seems the only way GM can

encourage more Volt sales is via very attractive leasing with little or no up front costs. Maybe Ford should be looking to similar

leasing deals to increase the appeal to a wider audience

Edited by jpd80

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Regarding the powertrain - yes the Volt powertrain is fairly simple (although not quite as simple as you seem to believe - the engine sends mechanical power to the wheels above ~70mph, see here, it's GM's attempt to address the obvious efficiency disadvantage of a series hybrid that you point out) but what it accomplishes is to give people FULL EV performance, no exceptions, until your AER is used up. The Energi and the Prius PHEV are power limited in EV mode because the electric half of the powertrain isn't nearly as powerful as the one in the Volt. Now previously, I've found myself arguing on the side of Ford on this topic - i think the Energi EV performance is perfectly acceptable for commuting purposes, but I'm a self-confessed hyper-miler, who's happy to go easy on the throttle. Whether the concept of a series hybrid with a fully acceptable electric performance is worthy of being deemed an engineering marvel or not, I'm not sure - but it is very well executed and is doing an excellent job of offering the market all the advantages of a fully electric vehicle without any compromises (aside from one missing seat) and deserves to be distinguished from PHEVs based around the more familiar parallel hybrid setup.

 

The Energis can go up to 85 mph on battery only so I don't understand the comment about them being power limited due to a less powerful electric powertrain.

 

I fully understand that the Volt can engage the wheels directly from the ICE - which to me makes it more like a PHEV, not less. The only difference is that the Volt only does this at high speeds whereas a PHEV does it more often at lower speeds.

 

I'm also not discounting the engineering of the generator/motor setup that allows direct engagement, sends power directly to the electric drivetrain and charges the battery in various combinations. That's pretty slick. The problem I have is that it really doesn't change how the vehicle operates compared to a PHEV.

 

To me a PHEV with a larger battery would have the same EV range, would provide the ability to run infinitely on gasoline when the battery is depleted and would actually get better fuel economy when the battery is depleted because it's more efficient. It recharges the same way. I just don't see the "marvel" compared to PHEVs.

 

Where the volt's design gives it a huge advantage is when you can switch to a super efficient ICE that can be run at optimal rpm all the time OR replaced with a fuel cell or some other type of power source altogether. The potential is there but until they actually do that, to me it's just a less efficient PHEV with a bigger battery pack.

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OK, I'll wade back in.

 

Despite my long career with Ford, and Z-Plan availability, I now have a Volt in my garage. I wanted:

 

1. An EV that would meet the requirements for me to latch on to the power company incentive to get free Level 2 wiring into my garage (240V, 40A) and a charger. That includes a separate meter with inexpensive off-peak power.

2. The capability to handle virtually all of our around-town driving on electric

3. Excellent EV performance without the gas engine coming on

4. Capability for longer trips.

 

That left me with a PHEV, not a pure electric. So my final choices were Volt and C-Max Energi. The larger incentive on the Volt for the larger battery offset my Ford discount; the lease rates were pretty much a wash (due to higher Volt residuals?). But the Chevy dealer was bending over backwards, and gave me substantially more on my Escape trade-in. The Ford dealer could have cared less to promote anything that plugged in. But I also chose the Volt due to it's superior EV performance; the C-Max, even in EV mode, was not nearly as potent as the Volt. I can drive the Volt any way I please. Gently with large regen for max economy, or with my foot into it on entrance ramps or when passing. It just works. No manually putting it in EV mode; no flashing lights telling me I should let the ICE fire up. I also chose the Volt due to its substantially longer range.

 

I could give a complete review, but I'll spare you. I'm not an EV fanatic nor am I a Volt fanatic. The Volt has good and bad points; I'm leasing it for 3 years as an experiment and so far I'm happy. The winter battery range dropped from a max of 44 miles in the fall to around 27-28 now. And, with temps below 15 degrees, the ICE comes on to help with cabin heat and overall electrical load. Nevertheless, with around 2,200 miles on the car, I"m at around 94% in EV mode.

 

Technology

I wanted to address some points including those brought up by akirby.

 

Volt -- as pointed out in other posts, including jpd's, except in very cold temps, the Volt runs on EV only until the battery is depleted; then it runs in hybrid mode. As jpd mentions in hybrid mode, the engine in general does not in general add additional charge to the battery unless you user-select either Mountain or Charge Sustaining mode. As akirby mentions, in hybrid mode, the engine is a generator except over 70 mph on relatively flat highway where there is a direct mechanical connection. It is true that generating electricity and then using that to power an electric motor loses some efficiency. But that doesn't make it "old technology" or a "locomotive." It's just the way GM chose to tackle the animal and, as I will show later, this generation/use issue affects Ford's eCVT also. It is true that the Volt's fuel economy in hybrid mode is not stellar (around 38 mpg). But I'm not sure how much of that is due to the power path, and how much is due to the fact that when GM was developing the Volt, they ran out of money for the ICE. A new one is coming soon (next year?) which will certainly improve hybrid economy.

 

The main thing about the Volt is that, despite the complexity of the various modes of operation, it is almost totally imperceptible. I could let anyone drive this car without any instructions, and they would have no problem whatsoever. Everything just works transparently (even the four heating/cooling systems), and that's a tribute to GM's engineers.

 

Let's talk about some of the other hybrid arrangements (which can be turned into PHEV's with more batteries). I don't want to pretend I'm an expert, and I stand to be corrected.

 

Honda -- Honda has a new hybrid on the Accord which is putting out better mpg than the Fusion hybrid. Guess what. The primary mode of this hybrid is to use the ICE as a generator to power an electric motor with no mechanical connection. Only at high speeds does it lock up in a mechanical manner with a single speed. Honda chose to do this so they wouldn't have losses through the gears as the lockup is a very simple affair. Therefore, the power arrangement is somewhat similar to the Volt, but the transmission is different.

 

Ford & Toyota eCVT's -- Although the eCVT's are now different, they operate in a similar manner. One thing to understand is that the electric traction motor drives the wheels. It's always turning when the car is in motion. The ICE is never directly connected to the wheels, so the electrical components are always "on line." And even in the Ford/Toyota-type eCVT's you are generating and using electricity simultaneously (which causes inefficiencies). Here's a nifty schematic that I urge everyone to play with. For example, try to put this at 60 mph and note the movement of the traction motor (MG1) and the smaller motor-generator (MG2). Some electric motor-generator is always spinning and sometimes the smaller MG2 goes backwards.

 

Power Split Transmission

 

Clutched ISG (Porsche/Hyundai?) -- In this case, there is a starter-generator inserted between the engine and transmission. If the motor(s) are powerful enough, the ICE can be taken off line. But I don't believe the ISG is taken off line when the motor is running. So once again, there is the issue of simultaneously generating and using electricity.

 

The point of all of this is to say that there is not a single solution and there are always some sort of inefficiencies when you are trying to blend an ICE and electric motor(s).

 

************

 

Back on Ford. What I am most discouraged about is the fact that Ford seems to believe that simply tossing a bunch of batteries in the trunk makes for an acceptable BEV/PHEV product. Sure it's a way to cheaply extend the hybrid without tearing up the platform, but it's just nasty. The "One Ford" didn't help as the U.S. was simply picking up EAO platforms with a nip and tuck, so there was no thought to battery package and the emphasis was to get the platforms common. I suppose I'll wait for the new Edge to see if Ford has done a better job but but I'm not betting on it. It's not easy. With a PHEV, packaging both the ICE and electric motors, combined with the difficulty of packaging the fuel system and batteries is a huge challenge. Even though the Volt lost a middle seat in the rear, and the platform tearup was expensive, to me it's the best PHEV (or, if you prefer, EREV) out there.

Edited by Austin

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Back on Ford. What I am most discouraged about is the fact that Ford seems to believe that simply tossing a bunch of batteries in the trunk makes for an acceptable BEV/PHEV product. Sure it's a way to cheaply extend the hybrid without tearing up the platform, but it's just nasty. The "One Ford" didn't help as the U.S. was simply picking up EAO platforms with a nip and tuck, so there was no thought to battery package and the emphasis was to get the platforms common.

You hit the nail on the head with the last sentence. None of Ford's current PHEV vehicles were originally designed with PHEV packages in mind. It wouldn't make much sense for them to rush an all new platform to market to accomodate it either, given the already lower margins on said vehicles. Once it's time for clean-sheet replacement platforms to go on line, I would expect that Ford takes PHEV engineering into account from the beginning. It doesn't make sense to force those platforms out before their regular replacement schedule though.

Edited by NickF1011

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All good points. I'm not against the Volt at all. I think it was a bad business decision for GM to develop it instead of other vehicles especially regular hybrids. It has the biggest EV range of any plug-in hybrid vehicle and probably the best battery packaging.

 

The engineering of the drivetrain components between the wheels and the ICE is impressive, but so is the engineering in the other hybrids and PHEVs. The packaging is also nice because it's a dedicated PHEV.

 

The 40 mile (35?) EV range is not due to new technology - it's due to a bigger battery pack. Other PHEVs could do the same thing but have chosen not to for cost, supply or packaging reasons.

 

I'm sorry but the technology required to run an ICE to generate electricity to turn electric motors attached to the wheels IS 1950s locomotive technology. That doesn't make it bad, it just makes it unremarkable. Especially when the ICE isn't any more efficient than any other ICE.

 

If and when they get a non-ICE powerplant or a dramatically more efficient ICE powerplant - that will make it unique and that is the primary benefit of such an architecture - decoupling the power source from mechanically driving the wheels.

 

Ford's choice not to design a specific PHEV vehicle seems obvious. They still have limited hybrid powertrains available so they're limited as to how many hybrids and phevs (and EVs) they can sell. If you can add a hybrid/phev/ev powertrain to an existing vehicle with few modifications and still sell the number you want to sell, you stand to make a lot more profit. I bet the cost of the Energi Fusion and C-Max was a tiny fraction of what GM spent on the Volt, and Ford is definitely making money on hybrids and energis while the VOLT will probably be in the red for years to come.

 

But don't tell me the Volt in its current form is anything other than a well-executed PHEV with a larger battery.

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