2012 Ford Focus Electric launch, New York City, January 2011 - Nancy GioiaEnlarge Photo
If reader response is any guide, there's a lot of interest in the 2012 Ford Focus Electric--which logged 12 sales last December and January but hasn't been heard from since.
Now, it appears that the first retail customer has taken delivery of Ford's new all-electric compact hatchback.
Very, very quietly.
According to the MyFocusElectric.com forum, a buyer from Charlotte, North Carolina, was so eager to get a Focus Electric that he drove to Long Island, outside New York City, to take delivery.
Ford is initially selling Focus Electrics only in California and New York, but engineer Whit Gallman picked up his car at Hassett Ford in Wantagh, New York.
He drove the 650 miles from his home to sign the paperwork, arranging to have the car shipped down to North Carolina.
In photos posted on the forum, the white Focus Electric hatchback bears the words "Out of Gas And LOVING IT!"
Given the long hiatus in Focus Electric deliveries, we would have expected some sort of publicity event around the first retail delivery of Ford's first-ever production electric car.
That would have followed the model set for the first Nissan Leaf and the first Chevrolet Volt (both delivered in December 2010) and the first Mitsubishi 'i' (delivered last December)--not to mention the handover of a manufacturer prototype Fisker Karma in a simulated delivery last July.
2012 Ford Focus Electric, New York City, April 2012Enlarge Photo
But thus far, Ford has been curiously silent about the sale.
We have asked Ford to confirm that this is the first retail delivery, but we had not received a response at the time this article was published.
[UPDATE: A day and a half after this article appeared, Ford spokesperson Wes Sherwood responded: "We do not have the specific order of sales but this is certainly one of the first."]
Ford has announced plans to roll out the Focus Electric nationwide, which it says will have happened by next year.
By fall 2012, Ford says the Focus Electric will be available in Atlanta; Austin and Houston, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; San Francisco; San Diego; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Ford has flatly declined to say how many Focus Electrics it hopes to sell.
Whether the 2012 Ford Focus Electric is a serious production model or merely a "compliance car" to meet California zero-emission vehicle mandates remains unclear.
The electric car is built on the same assembly line in Wayne, Michigan, as gasoline versions of the Focus compact.
[hat tip: Michael Szostak]