For some electric vehicles, when the temperature outside goes up, their performance goes down. But that would have been a deal-breaker for Ford engineers, who developed an advanced active liquid-cooling system that will help the 2012 Ford Focus Electric satisfy customers in even the hottest climes. Here’s how it works: Relying on sensors located all throughout the vehicle, the integrated cooling system can detect if the Focus Electric’s lithium-ion battery pack is getting too warm to deliver optimum performance. If so, coolant is automatically circulated through a “chiller,” which leverages the vehicle’s air-conditioning system, and then is used to bring the battery’s temperature down to the proper level. And Ford’s innovative cooling system can work when the Focus Electric is charging, too. “Batteries can heat up when they’re charging or being used, and it’s made worse by ambient temperatures,” said Dave Fabricatore, Thermal Program Management team engineer. “If the battery became too hot, we would have to limit the use of energy to protect it. The liquid-cooled system allows us to reduce those constraints and get the most out of the battery. “Controlling the temperature lets us deliver the best range and power for the customer, while improving the longevity of the battery,” added Fabricatore. “We’re helping owners by making sure their battery is always ready to go regardless of the weather.” Of course, that’s something Ford customers soon will be able to find out for themselves, since the Focus Electric will launch later this year in 19 pilot markets, including hot-weather areas like Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Richmond, Va. The car will roll out through the rest of the country in 2012, when it will be joined by Ford’s coming C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, along with yet another second-generation Ford hybrid. All told, and with the Ford Transit Connect Electric already on sale to commercial buyers, the automaker will have five electrified vehicles available in the U.S. before 2013.
How Cool Technology Drives The Ford Focus Electric