Ford will introduce the Focus EV in 2011 to high expectations.  The vehicle will be one of the first EVs to hit the roads from a domestic manufacturer.  For Ford, it will be their second EV by the time it comes to market, just behind the Transit Connect EV.  Currently in the prototype stage, Editor John O'Dell of had the opportunity to drive one and came away mostly impressed.

The prototype Focus EV is based on the US Focus, not the European Focus that the production EV will be based on.  The European Focus has received stellar reviews for years now and will likely far exceed the outgoing US Focus model.  With that said, O'Dell still speaks highly of the Focus EV prototype. 

According to the review, the power is smooth and steady and brings the vehicle to 60 mph in under 8 seconds.  The steering is communicative and the regenerative braking feels exactly like a conventional braking system.  Ford added a perfect amount of creep to allow drivers to slowly creep forward at stop lights, a feature not found on the Mini E.

In closing, O'Dell added, "All in all, an impressive early version with, seemingly, not much tweaking needed to be ready for the mean streets of the real world."

While the seat time prove to be a rewarding experience, O'Dell is not optimistic about the vehicle's success.  As stated, the base price will likely be around $40,000 and the vehicle only has a 100 mile range.  Even after adding in the $7,500 credit, he believes that this vehicle is simply too expensive, too short on range, and lacking the support of a charging infrastructure to meet widespread success.

Though he enjoys the vehicle, O'Dell is leery of its success.  Automakers are definitely taking a chance on EVs.  With virtually no infrastructure in place, high upfront costs, and a limited range, buyers may not turn up in numbers, but this can not detract from the future goal.  If buyers buy, the demand for an infrastructure will be met with supply.  The cost of EVs will drop with economies of scale and new battery technology will lead to significant advances in range.

Ford and others who follow may not see immediate success from their first generation EVs, but soon will see the benefits of entering this new industry in its infancy.