KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LEAF AND FOCUS
With Focus Electric allocations beginning to trickle out thought it would be good to review the major differences between the Volt, Leaf and Focus.
The trade off in selecting a battery electric vehicle like the Leaf or Focus Electric over the Volt is that you have no engine to extend the range of the vehicle by simply filling up with gas. Thus you are limited by the range of battery, and are committed to a recharge period before you can go again.
The Leaf attempts to address this by offering a DC quick charge, which can fill an empty battery to 80% in 30 minutes. Caveats to this are, that such stations are few and far between right now, and will be for some time, so it will be hit or miss depending on if they are available in your area.
Even if you do have them in your area there is no guarantee it will be ready and waiting for you, although some stations do have a reservation option. Stations with that option, however usually have fairly high costs to go along with that convenience. Right now there is a “land grab” going on to claim the low hanging fruit for charging station locations, and most of the prime real estate is being grabbed up by companies who clearly intend to charge prices the many times greater than actual electrical costs.
The Focus Electric does not offer a DC quick charge option, however the on board charger can put about 25 miles back into the battery for every hour it is hooked up.
LESS EXPENSIVE BY $2000 TO $5000
The LEAF has been around since December 2010, and the supply is growing. If you are willing to take a model that is on hand, some deals can be found on the Leaf.
DC QUICK CHARGE.
Caveats to this are that such stations are few and far between right now, and will be for some time, so it will be hit or miss depending on if they are available in your area. Also even if you can find a station, in the long term there will be charges for this service. This will most likely be a “convenience” feature that will cost you considerably more than charging up at home.
NISSAN HAS MADE CLEAR COMMITMENT TO THE BEV.
With its multi billion dollar investment in plants in Tennessee, Nissan and its current CEO Ghosn are clearly committed to the platform. And the numbers they have produced highlight that commitment.
AVAILABLE IN GREATER NUMBERS
Over 20k produced at this point worldwide. Presumably major issues would have surfaced by this point. This availability also means less waiting to get the car. Its possible you could waltz into a Nissan dealer right now and drive one home.
FORD FOCUS PROS:
Some may like the Japanese Mod look of the LEAF, but most reviewers are more impressed with the looks of the Focus. I have to concur. Though I found the LEAF to be more attractive in person than in pictures, for me the Focus is a clear winner in the looks department.
DOUBLE THE RECHARGE RATE
The Focus can recharge in half the time of the LEAF using a 6.6kw charging system. Adding 20-25 miles of range per hour versus 10-12 miles for the LEAF using a 240v charger. Whether this is an issue or not depends on your commuting pattern. For me there is a period between coming home and going back out again to lug kids around that a faster recharge rate is advantageous.
However, this will not be an advantage for long because Nissan has announced it will offer the option of a 6.6kw recharge system with the MY 2013 Leaf.
LIQUID THERMAL REGULATION
All things being equal Li batteries perform better and last longer when they are maintained and used in a moderate temperature band. Nissan claims that their batteries are fine just using air cooling, but they do not back these claims up with a robust warranty. In fairness Ford’s warranty specifics are unknown, but I would rather take my chances with liquid thermal regulation than without it.
GAS MODEL CONVERSION
The upside to the Focus Electric being a conversion of the gas model is that all the non-EV drivetrain parts are shared with the gas models. This should help to make costs lower and insure long term availability of those parts.
For example, I have kids who play sports, Keeping seats clean is nearly impossible, thus custom fit seat covers are a must have. At this point seat covers for the Leaf are simply generic seat covers, but because the Focus seats are identical to the gas model that is produced in huge numbers each month I can pick up a custom set of covers for a very good price. Ditto on just about every accessory you can think of. On the Leaf they will either be expensive or not available, on the Focus it should be less costly and more readily available.