2012 Ford Focus Electric: First Drive Page 2

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Question of supply

The main question in the minds of buyers and industry observers is not whether Ford can build a decent offering. The company's done that.

It's whether or not the Focus Electric will be offered throughout the country, in volumes that will enable any buyer who wants one (and can afford the $40K price tag) to step up and buy it.

Its main competitor, the Leaf, will now be available for immediate purchase at selected Nissan dealers nationwide: no more online signup and waiting.

Early next year, Nissan will begin building 2013 Leaf models (with some equipment upgrades) in Tennessee. When all parts of the battery and car assembly process are running at full speed, it will have the ability to build up to 150,000 Leafs a year--if market demand exists.

Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Hall in an ad for the 2012 Nissan Leaf

Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Hall in an ad for the 2012 Nissan Leaf

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By way of comparison, Alan Mulally, Ford's CEO, told Bloomberg that the company would be satisfied even with sales of fewer than 5,000 Focus Electrics in the first year. (Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs in the U.S. during its first year.)

Pricing: "competitive"

As for pricing, we asked John Viera, Ford's global director for sustainability and vehicle environmental matters, how the company arrived at the $39,995 total (a base price of $39,200 plus a mandatory delivery fee of $795).

He said Ford priced the Focus Electric by "looking at the competitive set," which is obviously the Nissan Leaf. There's a base 2012 Leaf SV at $35,200, but the more popular Leaf SL model has a base price of $37,250.

Ford feels that the faster charging, standard equipment level, and sportier vehicle dynamics of the electric Focus make it worth more than the high-level Leaf.

That may be true, though the nice round price of $40,000 produced noticeable sticker shock among several electric-car advocates we spoke to.

Viera says Ford is "making a profit" on the electric Focus--despite his CEO's claim that the battery pack cost is $12,00 to $15,000--so perhaps there's room for some creative price-cutting in the future.

Either way, we look forward to a more extended test of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. It's a new and viable competitor in the growing plug-in market.

If you can get one, that is.


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Comments (9)
  1. I really like the look of the Focus and that is a strong point for me over the LEAF which has a look that is ... well... ya know.

    On the other hand, the higher sales volume of the LEAF and Nissan's firm commitment to its success is a significant advantage. I feel like getting parts (including aftermarket) and service is more likely with the LEAF.

    As for turning the car on, I have the same complaint about my silly Prius. If you press the power button, without your foot on the brake, the car seems to turn on (all lit up) but it is not. My brother-in-law was stranded in a rented Prius because he couldn't figure this out. But he called me for the answer.

    At least Ford has an excuse, they are new at this. The Prius should have been fixed

  2. How can an article on an EV be complete without giving the operating range?

  3. Ha! You're entirely right; I spaced out while writing and forgot that info. Just added a paragraph (on p 1) that includes the EPA ratings. Thanks for the note.

  4. I would like to point out that most 2011/2012 Leaf's already have a DC fast charger in addition to the 3.3 Kw charger referenced in the article. The DC fast charger is much faster than the 6.6 Kw charger, allowing for an 80% charge in 30 minutes. The focus lacks a DC fast charger. For the west coast and a growing number of states, that will be a big deal. The installation of fast chargers is picking up steam, particularly along I-5 from Canada to Mexico. Oregon already has a portion of the "electric highway" in place, with DC fast chargers every 25 miles. Washington has already installed several DC fast chargers with ribbon cutting on the entire project just weeks away. Ford has some catching up to do, IMHO!

  5. "the company's first-ever production battery-electric vehicle", what about the Ford Ranger EV 1998–2002 (1,500 produced)? It was low volume fleet-only, but still a production EV.

  6. @Patrick: I'm aware of the Ranger EV, and I debated with myself over that wording, but in the end, I think I'll stand by what I wrote.

    Ford *says* the Focus Electric will be available nationwide in due course, and the fact that it's being built inline with gasoline Focus models simply make it more of a production car than a limited-production conversion.

    My two cents.

  7. I hope their are more Focus Electrics delivered than there were Ranger EVs, but currently the Ranger is still ahead in that race :)

  8. John, you praised the Focus Electric for in 6.6kW charger but didn't mention that it does not support DC Fast Charging. There are currently 13 DC fast chargers in Oregon and more are being installed all along the Interstate 5 as part of The West Coast Electric Highway. This seems worthy of at least a brief comment when discussing charging.

  9. The price may be "competitive" but that won't make it sell well because it is still overpriced in a world of $15k small cars that get 40 MPG. Price this car at $25k out the door and I'll consider it. Ford - are you listening?

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