Published July 14, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Ty Newell of Illinois celebrated becoming one of the first retail customers for the Ford Focus Electric by recreating one of the country’s earliest automotive road trips.
After taking delivery of the Focus from Hassett Ford in Wantagh, N.Y., Newell and his wife drove it to the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. where it was built.
The trip reversed the course of a trip completed by Roy Chapin between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 1901 when he became the first person to drive a car from Detroit to New York.
William Chapin, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn and grandson of Roy, met up with the Newells at the plant to congratulate them.
Ty Newell is a retired MechSE professor from the University of Illinois. Newell retired from the university in 2007 after 27 years there. His academic research was focused on energy systems and resource conservation.
With a life-long interest in solar energy, one of his research projects was the building of a half-acre, salt-gradient thermal energy storage solar pond on campus. This project provided heat for a number of years to an adjacent swine facility. He also founded Newell Instruments, Inc. in 1996.
The Focus Electric offers the equivalent of 110 miles per gallon (MPGe) city, 99 MPGe highway, and operates entirely on battery-generated power. The Focus Electric has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer 105 MPGe combined.
The Focus Electric is now available in California, New York and New Jersey. By fall 2012, the Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the United States; nationwide availability will happen by the end of the year.