Ford Focus Electric versus Ford Focus EcoBoost 1.0L

Last week HybridCars.com got yet another chance to drive the Focus Electric, only this time on a more varied test route, with gradients and sharper corners, plus we added additional passengers to see if it had any impact on the driving experience.

Furthermore, we were also given an opportunity to drive it back-to-back with a three-cylinder EcoBoost powered Focus, which recently went on sale in Europe.

Although the three-cylinder EcoBoost isn’t scheduled to arrive on our shores until next year and Ford still hasn’t said which vehicle it will make a home in apart from it being a “small car,” this was a good chance to weigh in the merits of pure electric against frugal gasoline engine propulsion.

Ford_1.0_Focus

1.0-liter EcoBoost-equipped Focus.

Ford rates the Focus Electric at 110 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) with a real world driving range of 76 miles.

Although no official U.S. data is yet available on the Focus 1.0-liter EcoBoost, in Europe, the 98-horsepower version delivers 49 mpg in the EU urban and extra-urban Driving Cycle tests, so once EPA findings have been completed, fuel economy ratings could be at least 15 percent greater (the 123 horsepower version is slightly lower at 47 mpg).

In driving, both cars are quite surprising. The Focus Electric has more torque off the line and it weighs noticeably more, thanks to the lithium ion battery pack located behind the rear seat, yet dynamically both cars feel fairly close. Steering input, with the EPAS system is good on both and up hills; even with full-size adults in the back seat the EcoBoost performs a lot better than expected. The Electric almost felt effortless, particularly at lower speeds.

Although it sounds and behaves very much like a small, European market turbo diesel, the EcoBoost three-cylinder is an impressive engine. However, the car we sampled featured a manual gearbox, so it would be interesting to see how it would fair with a six-speed automatic.

Braking in both cars is good and following on from our initial sample of the Focus Electric several weeks ago, we were very impressed by that car’s braking system, specifically that once in regenerative mode it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging a Redwood behind you, unlike some other pure electric cars we’ve tested over the last few years.

In fact, the only real compromise besides range; concerns the reduced trunk space because of the battery pack. However, a divider mechanism means you’ll still be able to place a decent amount of groceries back there, making it perfectly suitable for trips to the supermarket.

As for pricing, the Focus Electric currently starts at a MSRP of $39,200. Add in the 240-volt home charger ($1,500) and it’s still a fairly hefty sum, although a $7,500 eligible Federal Income Tax credit alleviates the pain somewhat.

By contrast a regular Focus in the U.S. currently starts at $16,500 and if and when the EcoBoost model does arrive on our shores, it will likely sticker at less than $20,000.

So one gets twice the mpg rating of the other, but also costs around twice as much. Although both cars utilize the same the basic structure, interior and suspension, it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges. If you can afford to live with the Focus Electric and really want a pure electric car, this one does represent a good alternative to the likes of the Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf, plus its higher price and limited range are offset not only by the $7,500 credit but also reduced operating costs.

Yet for many consumers, a lower entry price is likely to make the EcoBoost model more worthy of consideration in the short term, especially as it delivers similar performance, a larger trunk space and isn’t range limited (even though the idea of a three-cylinder, mainstream passenger car is still a bit foreign for most American motorists).

However, it will be interesting to see, over a five-year period, which of these two cars actually represents the most cost-efficient to own. Should we investigate the possibility of such a trial if the opportunity presents itself? What are your


  • Al Bunzel

    Yes, it would be interesting to do a real world comparison of the EcoBoost Focus vs the Electric Focus.

    However, there are other factors that could influence the total cost of ownership and these include:
    1/ if you have sufficient solar panels at home, you might be able to drive an Electric Focus for free.
    2/ if you do your own car servicing, then you can save a lot of money.
    3/ how often you drive. If you drive a lot, your cost per mile usually drops as you amortize expenses. However, at a certain point, an engine might be in need for major repairs and these can be expensive. This point can be a bit tricky to factor in with calculations as there a number of variables that come into play.

    Also, with Electric Cars, they don’t require as much servicing as an equivalent gas car. If you have to take the car into a technician, there is time taken to book, drop the car off and pick it up again. These activities take time where you might have to take some time off work to make arrangements. Will this be factored into calculations or comparisons?

  • Van

    Right now the best course seems to be to split the difference and buy a plug-in electric. Unfortunately, the Prius which costs 32,000 only gets a $2900 Federal discount, so the initial purchase does not save a whole lot over a $33,000 Focus after the discount.

    Next consider the resale value and hear the Prius might hold more of its value because the battery replacement cost would figure to be way less because it is smaller. Lets say that results in $2000 less cost for the Prius, car to car cost included.

    Now the Pruis can go on long trips, but the Ford cannot. Even a 100 mile round trip to LAX from Orange county would not be feasible.

    If we assume our daily commute about 30 miles, then only about half the miles would be electric in the Prius. But even if 8000 miles were gas miles, that works out to only about $1000 dollars per year more in operating cost, gas plus routine maintenance of the ICE.

    Bottom line, over 5 years the cost would be about the same, but the Prius wins on no range restriction, and the Ford wins on burning no gas with its costs both environmental and political.

  • Anonymous

    this could be a legit competition to prius c

  • Van

    I would doubt the three cylinder Focus would be competitive with the Prius city car. I would expect the Focus to be a few thousand cheaper out the door, but its overall mileage would not break 42 MPG.

    Anytime we see Euro mileage, we must remember it is based on a less challenging drive cycle and uses larger gallons, i.e imperial. So expect the 49 mpg Euro to equate with 40 or so mpg Usa.

  • Roy_H

    Why compare with Prius? Compare to LEAF.

    The Ford Focus EV is a compliance car, which will never be built in large quantities. This makes any comparison invalid as price will be kept as high as possible in line with selling minimum required quantities. For another $10k you can get a Model S with 160 mile range, enormous storage space, up to 7 seats, and far higher class, performance and ride comfort. Or get similar comfort, more storage, at much lower price LEAF. Only true blue Ford fanatics will buy this car because they will not consider any other brand.

  • melty

    Nice reviews, thanks. Of course, the most economical car is one that you hardly ever have to drive. Get on yer bikes!

    p.s.

    “Although no official U.S. data is yet available…”

    No no no! That should read:

    “Although no official U.S. data ARE yet available”

    Also:

    “…it would be interesting to see how it would fair with a six-speed automatic.”

    should read

    “…it would be interesting to see how it would fare with a six-speed automatic.”

  • danwat1234

    Not really competition against the Prius C. Just buy a 2012 Prius C when the 2014 Ford Fiesta 1 L Ecoboost comes out and it’ll be about the same price. A notch more MPG too