You know the complaints you hear people spew when the weather gets hot? Well, it’s hard out there for a battery, too. Extreme hotness may not be a problem for, say, George Clooney (or Robert Pattinson, depending on your age/taste), but high temps can potentially affect an electric vehicle’s battery performance and potentially reduce its range.
This meant Ford engineers had to develop an advanced active liquid-cooling and heating system for the new Focus Electric lithium-ion battery to ensure its longevity and that it would be good to go regardless of the weather. “If the battery became too hot, we would have to limit the use of energy to protect it. The liquid cooled system allows us to reduce those constraints and get the most out of the battery,” said Dave Fabricatore, Thermal Program Management Team Engineer.
Curious about that process? The integrated cooling system keeps the different systems in the car at their optimal operating temperatures. The air conditioning system is actually used to refrigerate the coolant going to the battery using a “chiller” (that’s the technical term!), so as the coolant passes through the chiller, it’s brought down to the temperature that the battery requires. Temperature sensors placed all over the Focus Electric let the cooling system know when it needs to kick into action.
This happens even as the car is charging, which can help reduce the charge time in hot climates, since the battery will be kept at a desirable temp.
The Focus Electric will launch in late 2011 in 19 pilot markets. The liquid-cooled battery system will serve as another distinct advantage the Focus Electric will have over other air-cooled all-electric vehicles, especially in the warmer initial launch markets, which will include Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego as well as Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Richmond, Va.
In 2012, these models will be joined in North America by the new C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. Ford intends to launch five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and in Europe by 2013.