Ford unveils electric car at CES

The Ford Motor Company unveiled the company’s first-ever all-electric passenger car this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Focus Electric recharges in three to four hours if you can find somewhere to plug it in. It has a top speed of around 85mph and a range estimated at around 100 miles.

Bill Ford, great grandson of founder Henry, told reporters in a parallel unveiling in New York, that the launch of the car was designed to promote the establishment of a charging grid in the United States. "We’re willing to accept lower sales volumes at first because it’s important to show the country, utilities and political leaders that we’re ready to go," he said.

The Focus Electric is powered by a lithium-ion battery system engineered by Ford in cooperation with supplier LG Chem. The battery system uses an active liquid cooling and heating system to precondition and regulate the temperature in its battery system.

The active liquid system heats or chills a coolant before pumping it through the battery cooling system. This loop regulates temperature throughout the system depending on external conditions. On hot days, chilled liquid absorbs heat from the batteries, dispersing it through a radiator before pumping it through the chiller again. On cold days, heated liquid warms the batteries, to bring the system’s temperature to a level that allows it to efficiently accept charge energy and provide enough discharge power for expected vehicle performance, the company said. One of these things catching fire is likely to cause a bit more smoke than your average laptop.

According to a statement from Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development, “Focus Electric is the culmination of years of research and development,”

He said the vehicle's "advanced powertrain will deliver significant energy efficiency advantages and zero CO2 emissions without compromising driving enjoyment. And its suite of smart driver information technologies will transform the way customers think about energy usage and their transportation needs.”

The Focus Electric will launch in late 2011 and boasts other new technologies including a version of the MyFord Touch driver connect system, a value charging feature powered by Microsoft and a smartphone app called MyFord Mobile that helps plug-in owners control their vehicles remotely.