is sending potential buyers of the upcoming electrified Focus the sales pitch of a lifetime: no internal-combustion engine, no maintenance.
The auto maker predicts those who purchase the engine-less Focus electric veicle stand to save $449 and 7.5 hours of precious time just on oil changes, alone, during the projected 10-year, 150,000-mile (241,400-km) life of the vehicle.
Focus EV owners in that timeframe also won’t have to replace five air filters at a cost of $24.95 each; have two cooling system flushes at a cost of $109 each; get one transmission service for $179; replace one drive belt for $130; or buy and install one new set of spark plugs for $69.95.
“The (Focus EV) is really self-contained,” David Finnegan,marketing manager-hybrid vehicles, tells Ward’s. “There’s virtually no maintenance associated with it.”
The only thing buyers need to concern themselves with, aside from remembering to plug in their EVs, is routine chores such as maintaining the proper tire pressure and replacing windshield-wiper blades.
The only EV-exclusive maintenance item is a Ford-recommended flushing of the lithium-ion battery pack’s cooling system at 100,000 miles (161,000 km), Finnegan says. “There is no annual maintenance required on our battery, like some (competitor) vehicles,” he says.
The Focus EV does require a routine check of its regenerative braking system, which captures kinetic energy normally lost during deceleration and funnels it back into the vehicle’s battery. The setup makes brake maintenance easier than it is for a traditional system, Finnegan says.
“The maintenance intervals on (regenerative brakes) are beyond what you would normally see,” he says. “They don’t use friction braking nearly as often, because the generator slows the vehicle down, so you don’t have that wear and tear on the pads.”
, which recently launched its Leaf electric car, says its maintenance requirements are similar to Ford’s.
“We have an annual battery check, just to be sure everything is in optimal condition,” spokesman Brian Brockman says. “Everything else is maintenance or wear-related, such as brakes and tires.”
Focus EV pricing has yet to be announced, but it’s expected to be several thousand dollars more than the $17,365 base price of the standard ’12 Focus.
Finnegan says the money consumers save in maintenance costs will help offset the higher price. “Some of the benefits are the (government EV) tax credits, no gas and not having maintenance.”
Ford currently is busy educating dealers on how to repair the Focus EV through a nationwide training program. Not all dealers will sell the Focus EV, Finnegan says, noting there will be a “certification process.”
Dealers who do intend to sell the car not only will have to train their technicians on how to service the EV but also will be required “to make preparations and investments,” he says without elaborating.
, which has yet to introduce an all-electric vehicle but is rolling out a plug-in hybrid version of its Prius early next year, is presently developing a dealer-training program, says Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
“All of that training is being worked on right now,” Lentz tells Ward’s. “My guess is there will have to be select ‘champions’ within dealerships who will be the EV experts. Because it’s difficult to go in and train all technicians when they may not see that many vehicles.”
Azure Dynamics, the supplier that co-developed the electric powertrain for the Transit Connect EV model with Ford, devsigned a training program for the auto maker’s 103 dealers authorized to sell the electric van.
“Our Information Technology group has recently launched AZDtec.com, which provides our dealer network with a comprehensive and detailed training program,” Azure tells Ward’s in an email. The program’s quizzes and tests are “designed to ensure dealerships fully comprehend the unique properties of our products.”