Ford is proud to say that when owners of the soon to come Ford Focus Electric and Ford C-MAX “Energi” plug-in hybrid charge up their cars, they’ll find the location of their charging ports to be just right.
Finding the best charge port location may seem inconsequential. However, Ford says that an electric vehicle owner is likely to plug in or disconnect his or her car four times a day, or nearly 1,500 times a year. Compare that to once a week or 52 times a year for filling up a gas tank. The higher frequency of interaction the charge port entails played a role in Ford wanting to make sure the location was just right.
“After benchmarking multiple competitive vehicles, we found there wasn’t much consistency in charge port location,” said Susan Curry, Ford Electrified Vehicle Technology Integration supervisor. “We wanted to give customers a location that made the most sense for them and would seem as simple as filling up at the gas station.”
The team used market research to find out how customers expected to charge up. The research showed most customers would charge their vehicle at home, which was helpful in determining the best place for the port. Feedback also indicated the location should be kept out of areas with high risk of damage in the event of small crashes. This was a driving factor, Ford says, in the choice of the side of the vehicle rather than the front or rear.
To meet customer usage patterns, engineers considered the driver side, the passenger side and the front and rear of the vehicle. Placement in the front could have created problems with customers having to bend down to plug in or out, snow packing, dead insects or debris, and potential damage from car accidents. The rear of the vehicle would have invited the same issue, with damage from fender benders, as well as less accessibility when trying to connect to a charging station. Incidentally, Chevrolet chose the same location for their charging port on the Chevrolet Volt.
“The left front fender location keeps the charge port in sight, before the customer enters or exits the car, for an easy reminder to unplug or recharge,” said Mary Smith, Ford Electrified Vehicle Technology Integration supervisor. “It creates an intuitive placement for owners that also has aesthetic appeal.”
A bit of ego plays a role too as additional thought went into the port location from a style perspective to ensure it would provide that “wow” factor. Being positioned on the side of the vehicle delivers the best visibility, especially when lit to show the charge state, as opposed to being buried in the front with the grille and other style cues.
The 2012 Ford Focus Electric will go on sale later this year and the 2013 C-Max Energi Hybrid is said to be coming sometime in 2012.