Yesterday Ford Motor Co. began accepting online orders for its 2012 Focus Electric, which was first unveiled a year ago in Las Vegas.
The company is coming in with a limited and partially delayed launch a year or more after Nissan, which has already has sold over 8,000 of its (now) $35,200 all-electric Leafs in the U.S. alone.
The plug-in Focus will cost a bit more, starting at $39,995, and Ford – which quietly delayed release dates to 17 initial markets till next spring, then denied it – says buyers can “virtually build and price one” at its dedicated Web site.
Focus Electric customers will be eligible for the same subsidies available for the Leaf, Volt or similar advanced-tech vehicles. These include a federal tax credit of $7,500, and state and local incentives, where applicable.
Despite coming later to the market, Ford’s announcement naturally kept to the time-honored tradition of accentuating the positive, though perhaps not unjustifiably so.
“Today is an historic day, as Ford opens up the order banks for the company’s first full production, all-electric passenger vehicle – the Focus Electric,” said Chad D’Arcy, Focus Electric Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company yesterday. “The all-new Focus Electric is an important part of Ford’s overall strategy, bringing still another option to customers who want a car that is fun-to-drive, easy to own and fully electric.”
According to a statement by Ford:
Focus Electric comes standard with: MyFord Touch with 8-inch touchscreen; two driver-configurable 4.2-inch color LCD displays in cluster for unique EV driving screens; MyFord™ Mobile App (for remotely monitoring and scheduling battery charging with owners’ smartphone as well as remote start); HID Headlamps; 17-inch aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, seats made from 100-percent recycled material; Rear Camera with Rear Parking Sensor; Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start; MyKey®; voice-activated Navigation System; Particulate Air Filter; hands-free SYNC® Bluetooth telephone connectivity with Traffic, Direction and Information Services; electronic traction control; Sony®-Branded audio with nine speakers; SIRIUS® Satellite Radio and HD Radio™.
The only options on the thoroughly appointed Focus Electrics are leather seats and two paint colors.
“Ford believes driving electric doesn’t mean consumers should have to sacrifice on driving experience or vehicle quality,” said D’Arcy. “The Focus Electric comes with more standard features than any other comparable all-electric vehicle.”
Ford is also equipping the vehicle with an on-board 6.6-kilowatt charger ready to take better advantage of 240-volt fast charging. But when plugged into 120-volt current, Ford says it takes 18-20 hours to recharge the 23 kilowatt battery.
A $999 home-installed charger utilizing 240-volts can zap its 23-kwh LG Chem batteries back to full charge in around three to four hours. This is about half the time it takes for a Leaf with a 3.3-kilowatt on-board charger.
So, if you get a Focus EV, you’ll probably want to order the fast charger at the same time.
The 3,691-pound vehicle weighs a little more than the gasoline version. Its battery pack is liquid heated/cooled and channels power from the 123-horsepower, 181-pound-feet torque motor through a single-speed transmission to its front wheels.
Range is said to be around 100 miles.
Will it sell?
Of course it will, the question is how fast and how soon will Ford – and other companies for that matter – get costs down on advanced-tech vehicles and pass the savings onto the consumer?
We all know energy and emissions issues are driving this nascent technology, but even some auto executives have been reluctant to dive in with greater commitment.
Some people believe advanced-tech vehicles could sell for less and the industry should be less tentative, and make a concerted run for the mainstream end zone. The thinking is that this would speed up roll-out of public charging stations, reduce supplier pricing, and an all around cascading effect from economies of scale would make the whole industry more affordable
It’s kind of a chicken and egg dilemma, but it will all happen sooner or later, or so advocates and other industry stakeholders say.
But even basic timing has been a question for Ford. For example, in August the company ever-so-subtly changed its marketing info to say that only California and New York would be getting the car this year. Previous press announcements had not made that distinction, and an advertisement saying “coming spring 2012″ caught the media by surprise, but Ford quickly played it down, saying it had been its plan all along.
Whatever the case, the car’s other launch markets for Spring 2012 include: Atlanta, Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va., Seattle, and Washington, D.C.