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Electric Car!
Old 11-05-2012, 05:03 PM   #1
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Electric Car!

Last week we (mostly DW) picked up a new 2012 Ford Focus Electric car. We have had a ball with it, put several hundred miles on it now and no issues so far. We are using 110 power but may add a 240 charging station if it becomes compelling. We are having our elecrtic service upgraded from 100 to 200 amps soon so this might be the opportunity. We also have found a couple places for 'free' electric but it still takes too long to be convenient. IMHO this is a great city car, maybe the only one needed if living in NYC, Chicago, SF but we are in LA which is pretty spread out. In the first week we did not use our 'regular' car. The big issue will be range which is estmitated at 76 miles. We have distance driving covered by our Jeep Liberty diesel so we are hoping this combination will be effective. We test drove the Mitsubishi and really disliked it, drove more like a golf cart than a car. The Focus is really solid and comfortable. Certainly Ford is not selling a lot of them so there are some real deals out there. We leased our for 3 years as we are not sure about the technology. But if it goes like the first week then we are likely to have one in our permanent fleet.
Now if Nords drops by and installs some solar panels we will have everything covered.
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:26 PM   #2
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Good report.
When we get our next car it will be a plug in electric. (And we'll get solar panels at the same time.) I'm looking at the Nissan Leaf - a few friends have them.
Our other car would continue to be my highlander hybrid... which is easier on gas than most SUVs and works fine for distance since it still has a combustion engine. Plus its big enough to haul kids and their "stuff".
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
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The big issue will be range which is estmitated at 76 miles.
That range issue is still a big deal for me. Even though the vast, vast majority of my drives are very much under that, I don't like the idea that I would be limited, and have to choose another car, and plan ahead for that. And some things can't be planned for. Plus, that range can go way down with heater, A/C, or getting stuck in traffic.

If you drive out 25 miles, you might think you will be fine with the 25 miles back. But maybe you get a call, and would like to make a side trip. Mmmm, another 10 miles out and back? Getting iffy, what if traffic is bad, etc.

Recently, my daughter drove back from college, and she had a problem with her car that Sunday as she was ready to head back - I just let her borrow mine, and got hers fixed that week. If I drove an EV, I could not have done that, it wouldn't get her 1/3rd of the way there.

Sure, those are rare occurrences, but after I put that much money into a car, I want to be able to use when I want to use it, not when it fits a 76 mile range limit that could be a lot less, and I like to plan for the worst case. Not very flexible.

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Old 11-05-2012, 08:42 PM   #4
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Something I am going to consider in our next car is the electric. I'm not familiar with the Ford Focus and I'm wondering if it is anything like the Chevy Volt where you have a standby system (small gasoline engine) to get you further than the published mileage on battery power alone. I don't thnk I would like anything that has a definite mileage limit based on the charge alone. Does the Ford Focus have a system similar to the Volt?
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:50 PM   #5
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That range issue is still a big deal for me. Even though the vast, vast majority of my drives are very much under that, I don't like the idea that I would be limited, and have to choose another car, and plan ahead for that. And some things can't be planned for. Plus, that range can go way down with heater, A/C, or getting stuck in traffic.

If you drive out 25 miles, you might think you will be fine with the 25 miles back. But maybe you get a call, and would like to make a side trip. Mmmm, another 10 miles out and back? Getting iffy, what if traffic is bad, etc.

Recently, my daughter drove back from college, and she had a problem with her car that Sunday as she was ready to head back - I just let her borrow mine, and got hers fixed that week. If I drove an EV, I could not have done that, it wouldn't get her 1/3rd of the way there.

Sure, those are rare occurrences, but after I put that much money into a car, I want to be able to use when I want to use it, not when it fits a 76 mile range limit that could be a lot less, and I like to plan for the worst case. Not very flexible.

-ERD50
+1. In the future, if I am in the market for one, I will consider a hybrid first.

But then, some of the new conventional cars have such good gas mileage that I wonder how much savings is realized after considering the higher cost of the hybrid.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:08 PM   #6
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Last week we (mostly DW) picked up a new 2012 Ford Focus Electric car. We have had a ball with it, put several hundred miles on it now and no issues so far. We are using 110 power but may add a 240 charging station if it becomes compelling. We are having our elecrtic service upgraded from 100 to 200 amps soon so this might be the opportunity.
Now if Nords drops by and installs some solar panels we will have everything covered.
I've been wondering if the manufacturers would make a DC charge controller for higher charging efficiency.

But five 300-watt panels with microinverters could feed right through a 240v breaker into the Focus' receptacle without having to go through any of the house wiring. 1.5KW might be enough power, but it's easy to add more if you need it.

We've been considering a Mitsubishi or a Volt, but I'll have to keep an eye out for a Focus. I didn't know they had an EV model, and I don't know if it's available here yet.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:04 PM   #7
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+1. In the future, if I am in the market for one, I will consider a hybrid first.

But then, some of the new conventional cars have such good gas mileage that I wonder how much savings is realized after considering the higher cost of the hybrid.
I looked at smaller puddle jumpers, and yes, many get 30-40+ MPG on the highway, but only in the 20s in town. My Prius gets 50+ in town, where I drive most of the time, and on the highway. Cost around $25k, so more expensive than other sub compacts.

Definitely a gas miser compared to my V8 pickup!
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:18 PM   #8
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OK. $25K is not bad at all, and about what I am willing to spend.

Make it a flat-towable car so I can hook it up behind my motorhome then it's a deal.
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:39 AM   #9
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We have two conventional hybrids now, but we would like to think there's an electric car in our future if we ever feel we've settled down. I suspect we'd have one gas, and one electric (for local travel only) - electric only does not make sense to me, obviously you can't take a long trip in a practical sense.

Trouble is, the $ savings (electric vs gasoline) may never be better than they are now. The generous tax subsidies will eventually go away. And ironically, if one day almost everyone has full electric cars and there are internal combustion engine cars become scarce, gas may actually get (a lot) cheaper and electricity (a lot) more expensive (both due to supply & demand). It will be interesting to see how this plays out...
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:47 AM   #10
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Something I am going to consider in our next car is the electric. I'm not familiar with the Ford Focus and I'm wondering if it is anything like the Chevy Volt where you have a standby system (small gasoline engine) to get you further than the published mileage on battery power alone. I don't thnk I would like anything that has a definite mileage limit based on the charge alone. Does the Ford Focus have a system similar to the Volt?
While I like the concepts behind the Volt the price will have to come way down before we'd actually buy one. We also have strong reservations about an electric-only with it's limited range.

To my knowledge the Focus does not have an alternative power source.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:20 AM   #11
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OK. $25K is not bad at all, and about what I am willing to spend.

Make it a flat-towable car so I can hook it up behind my motorhome then it's a deal.
That was always my issue with them. The pay back time for the higher upfront cost out weighed the gas savings cost. But that seems to be changing now.

Here's a couple of links for comparisions. The hyundai sonata hybrid looks to be very competitive.

Gas Saver Hybrids, Diesels vs. Standard Cars | Which Are Most Affordable? - Consumer Reports

Is Going Green Worth It? Hybrids vs. Conventional Models | U.S. News Best Cars
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:25 AM   #12
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Having owned my Escape hybrid for nearly 6 years, my perspective has gone from "Gee Whiz" to "Cross your fingers". Fortunately the hybrid part of it has performed well (had some minor chassis issues), but in the back of my mind I know that if it has a serious technical issue, my only recourse if to go to the dealer (if I can find one with a competent hybrid tech) and pay dearly.

Prius owners are in a little better position as they have strength in numbers, but imagine driving your Volt, long out of warranty, into America's heartland and having a major failure. The corner garage isn't going to diagnose the computer operated controls and even when they find that burned out module, who is going to stock it and how much is it going to cost? (Escape hybrid owners were shocked to find out the unique brake module lists for $4500)

It is one thing to buy a leading edge smartphone knowing it will be obsolete in a few years, but I expect a car to be a 10 or more year investment. The Gee Whiz lasts about a year and the Cross your fingers part starts the day the warranty expires.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:47 AM   #13
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I looked at smaller puddle jumpers, and yes, many get 30-40+ MPG on the highway, but only in the 20s in town. My Prius gets 50+ in town, where I drive most of the time,
Hybrids have most of their advantage in stop-and-go traffic. Out on the open road they lose a lot of their MPG advantage. For example, my ordinary car gets 36 mpg on the open road. The Hybrid gets 38. In town, my ordinary car gets about 24 while the hybrid gets over 40!
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:50 AM   #14
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100% electric cards have a huge cost advantage today because they don't pay the gas taxes used to maintain the roads. As they become more common those of us who drive mainly gasoline powered vehicles are going to object to subsidizing electric car owner's use of the road system. I expect some type of road use fee will be added to the yearly license fees paid by electric car owners.
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:32 AM   #15
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OK. $25K is not bad at all, and about what I am willing to spend.

Make it a flat-towable car so I can hook it up behind my motorhome then it's a deal.
Can't tow it on the ground, needs to be flat bedded.
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:33 AM   #16
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Something I am going to consider in our next car is the electric. I'm not familiar with the Ford Focus and I'm wondering if it is anything like the Chevy Volt where you have a standby system (small gasoline engine) to get you further than the published mileage on battery power alone. I don't thnk I would like anything that has a definite mileage limit based on the charge alone. Does the Ford Focus have a system similar to the Volt?
Pure electric, like the Leaf and a few others. That is its virtue and its limitation. Only good as a city car or (for us) a second car.
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Old 11-06-2012, 10:46 AM   #17
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Talk about an electric vehicle for running errands, I remember reading about retirement communities where people use a golf cart to get around. That sounded relaxing to me, until I realized that I would be surrounded by geezers. Like myself!

Anyway, I currently have 3 cars, the oldest one has 160K miles on the odometer, and the newest one has 30K. As little as we drive them now, it will be a while before we are in the market for a new vehicle. Perhaps by that time, these EVs or hybrids will be old-hat technology and reliability and repair issues will not be a problem anymore. My friend said his sister bought one of these green vehicles, and had to face expensive repairs after just 5 or 6 years. That would make me mad.
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Our Gas Pump
Old 11-06-2012, 10:53 AM   #18
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Our Gas Pump

DW pumping up the Focus
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:29 PM   #19
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Cost around $25k, so more expensive than other sub compacts.
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OK. $25K is not bad at all, and about what I am willing to spend.
Make it a flat-towable car so I can hook it up behind my motorhome then it's a deal.
You can get a real bargain out of used Priuses, 3-5 years old. But they should be towed on a flatbed, or at the very least with the front wheels up.

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100% electric cards have a huge cost advantage today because they don't pay the gas taxes used to maintain the roads. As they become more common those of us who drive mainly gasoline powered vehicles are going to object to subsidizing electric car owner's use of the road system.
Maybe those fees should be paid by the vehicles that cause the most damage: by weight.
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