Focus can amp it up with 45 batteries

STEVE LAGUE, MOTORING EDITOR

Focus can amp it up thanks to 45 batteries

Apart from the missing exhaust pipe, and most people wouldn't notice that, The West's new electric-powered car looks like any other Focus sedan on the road. That was until it was covered in stickers advertising it was part of an electric vehicle trial.

Related: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RUN? | PLUGGING INTO THE FUTURE | ELECTRIFYING RIDE

Bought new, the entry-level CD Focus sedan was converted to an electric vehicle by EV Works in Kewdale.

It is an exercise that increased the cost of the entry-level CL Focus sedan, which sells for $21,990, to the $50,000 mark to put on the road.

The conversion involved removing the engine, exhaust system, fuel tank and spare tyre well and replacing them with an electric motor, forty-five 160Ah lithium-ion batteries and an electronic battery-management system, including a recharger.

The batteries are stored in three separate compartments, one under the bonnet with the motor, one where the fuel tank once was, just in front of the rear axle, and one where the wheel well was under the boot.

This exchange has added 50kg to the overall weight of the Focus but because the additional weight is down low it has also lowered the car's centre of gravity and changed how it performs dynamically, though you would need to drive the cars back-to-back to notice the difference.

The only other exterior change is that the fuel filler has been replaced by two power plugs. In The West's car there is a 15-amp plug and one special round eight-pin plug that enables the car to be plugged into the fast-charge station that has been installed in the visitors' carpark at the front of Newspaper House.

The single-phase Level II IEC-compliant fast charger is the first to be installed in Australia and will reduce the charging time by 50 per cent. It will also be available for use, free of charge, by any EV owners who visit Newspaper House in Osborne Park.

Inside, the only telltale difference, when compared with a standard petrol-powered model is a small battery indicator light on the centre stack and a small switch to "turn on" the heater.

Because the electric motor, which can generate up to 100kW under acceleration, does not get hot like an internal-combustion engine there is no need for a radiator to help keep it cool. This in turn means there is no hot water flowing through the system that can be utilised to keep the cabin warm in the winter. (It is also the reason the temperature gauge is not used).

To overcome this problem a small "electric hot-water heater" has been installed to ensure the heater still works. The temperature gauge no longer functions but you don't notice that until the car is running.

The only other change is that because the spare tyre well now stores batteries, the spare tyre and the tyre changing gear sit in the boot.