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Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 7:50 am

Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electric

Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:25 pm

Just like people, batteries operate the best within a certain, and fairly narrow temperature range. Many questions are raised on this Ford Focus Electric Forum and all over the internet about the reliability and effectiveness/usefulness of an electric vehicle in extreme weather climates.

The Ford Focus EV has a liquid cooled and heated battery pack that will allow it to operate in the snow and cold of the NorthEast or the heat of the SouthWest deserts. The system allows Ford to keep the Focus Electric's batteries at a moderate temperature and improve performance - both while driving and charging.

A heated battery pack will accept power faster during regenerative braking, effectively adding more charge to the pack than if the pack was un-heated.

Even parked, the Ford Focus Electric's battery pack will stay warm as long as you are plugged in.

Ford states they want their customers to be able to count on their Ford electric vehicle no matter what sort of climate they find themselves in.

Full article: ... s-electric

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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:35 am

Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:37 pm

The performance of the actively managed temperature batteries (Focus, Volt) vs. the non-managed batteries (Leaf) will be an interesting one. To me the key questions will be How much cost does this add to the vehicle and does it increase performance enough to justify this cost.

So when the car is not plugged in, does the system pull battery power to maintain temperature or does it all the batteries to get cold/hot? A typical use case will be someone driving the car into work after being plugged in all night. The battery temperature being maintained all night. Say this is a very cold day in Minneapolis. The car sits in the parking lot for 9 hours...the temperature never getting about 0. Two scenarios for the actively managed battery. 1. The system pulls juice from the battery to keep itself nice and toasty. However the driver losses several (dozens?) of miles of range. 2. The system does no operate because it is not plugged in. The batteries have cooled and the driver again loses some (a lot?) of range.

In either case, does the temperature management result in a significant performance improvement over the non-managed system?

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Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:40 pm

You're right, it wouldn't make sense for the Focus Electric to pull power from the batteries all day long in order to keep the battery pack warm to extend the range, as I would imagine that amount of energy would be more than you'd lose from a cold batter pack?

Perhaps there will be a pre-warm feature, where you can set a timer. Pull into work in the morning, set the timer to 8 hours, and in 8 hours the heater turns on to warm up the battery packs so they are toasty warm when you are ready to drive all the way home. As long as cold batteries always have some amount of power, as they need enough power to start the heater to warm the battery to generate more energy - it sounds like circular energy logic!

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Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:27 pm

I'd be willing to bet that Ford wouldn't have the batteries heat the batteries while it's parked - there would be too much risk of the battery draining from the heater.

I'm not from a super cold area, but don't those places use block heaters all the time in the cold months? And don't most office buildings (and places where people park all day) have block heaters? Maybe not but I though my Uncle used to talk about that. If there are block heater connections, then you could simply plug in your Ford Focus Electric there and it would at least supply enough power to keep the battery pack from freezing while you're at work!

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Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:40 pm

It's funny how Ford thinks this is News - that they have a battery heater to keep the battery packs warm. I think I've seen this elsewhere on this Ford Focus Electric Forum?

Chevy Volt has a heater on their batteries too. Nissan's Leaf doesn't heat the batteries, but has been up front about saying that electric vehicles have a shorter range in cold weather, regardless of whether they start out with cold or warm batteries.

Ford has responded to that saying they've gone to great lengths to ensure the Ford Focus Electric's batteries stay near their ideal temperature while charging and while driving.

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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:35 am

Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:56 am

Block heaters used to be much more common, but we do not see them much anymore. I'm not an expert, but I think fuel injection and lighter weight oil greatly diminishes the need. Even when these were more common I don't think many businesses had outlets as cold starts were more an issue when starting a car first thing in the morning...coldest part of the day and all.

The question of battery heaters will fall somewhere in the spectrum of totally unnecessary over-engineering vs absolute essential in cold weather. What in the end will be the cost/benefit?

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Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:06 am ... e_id=34165
“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,” said Marakby. “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.”
Sounds like a suspicious argument to me. I'd be surprised if we find any difference between Leaf & Focus EV in terms of cold weather performance - esp. with the cold weather package that Leaf will get in MY12.

Volt range suffers quite a bit in cold weather, and it has active thermal management.

The reason for low range is not just what the battery can supply - but mostly heating needs of the occupants. Afterall as we drive, the battery naturally heats up since power is being drawn from it.

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Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:36 am

Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Tue May 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Ford recently said 'Batteries are similar to people, as they both achieve maximum performance working under moderate, unchanged temperatures.'

Ford also stated that there are few areas in North America where moderate, unchanged temperatures are common place. That's why the Ford Focus Electric will come with the active liquid cooling system. The cooling system will cool the electric car's battery pack lessening the impact of cold weather as compared to air systems.

Ford holds that there are a number of advantages to the system on their Focus Electric: Apparently the Ford Focus Electric will be able to charge faster with the regenerative braking because of the liquid heated battery, creating less wasted energy and more captured energy from the braking system. The Ford Focus Electric will essentially get a longer range because of the quick-charge ability.

At least Ford had the insight to allow the pack to pre-warm when the Focus Electric is pluffed in and charging.

Sherif states:
Focus Electric wasn’t built just for consumers in warm cities with consistent temperatures. 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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Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 12:37 pm

Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Thu May 12, 2011 4:57 pm

Heating/cooling the battery is not free, the power for that is going to come from the battery as I drive. Hopefully it is cheaper than heating the cabin, but it still will be an additional load on the battery that is not going into propulsion. In fact on a trip when the battery temperature doesn't have time to reach optimal, it is essentially a waste of power.

For his reason I would think that conditioning the battery before I exit my garage would give me a definite advantage. But for how long? and what about when my car has been parked outside all day and then I drive home?

I'd like to see actual data on the power benefits when all the conditioning is coming from the car and not from being plugged in overnight. My guess is that for short trips (< 7mi) it is only going to degrade performance and long trips it could pay off but only if there is a significant battery performance improvement based on temperature. Kind of like the performance of an ICE when it needs to 'warm up'...

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Re: Snow, cold weather no problem for the Ford Focus Electri

Fri May 13, 2011 2:41 pm

I agree that it can't really be counted as a gain, although Ford must think or know that the extra energy the warm battery can absorb rapidly during braking and the amount it can hold more than pay off the amount that it takes to heat the batteries.

Real info from Ford and statistics on the Ford Focus Electric are really the only way to know for sure.

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