Attendees excitedly swarmed around a prototype of the all-electric 2012 Ford Focus EV at an October conference held on Microsoft's Redmond campus, outside Seattle, Washington.
But a newer, nice, cooler, and much flashier prototype of the 2012 Focus EV made its debut a few weeks earlier in rather more glamorous surroundings: the Jay Leno Show weeknight talk show, on NBC-TV.
An audience of 300 at the October event, called Beyond Oil: The Sustainable Communities Initiative, heard presentations and panel discussions by more than 50 experts.
Topics included innovative transportation strategies, electric-car technology, infrastructure challenges, and how to increase energy security by reducing the vulnerability created by U.S. reliance on oil.
Ford Focus EV
Ford Focus EV - instrument panel
Ford Focus EV - battery pack under rear seat, from inside
Ford Focus EV
I-5 electric corridor
The location, under the gray clouds of the Pacific Northwest, highlighted a $100 million Department of Energy grant for a 36-month study across five states jointly promoting electric transportation along I-5 from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Eugene, Oregon.
The Idaho National Laboratory, one of several cosponsors, will analyze data generated by more than 1,000 separate 2012 Nissan Leaf electric cars, which will be operated by large fleets during early tests of the pioneering all-electric vehicle.
Meanwhile in Hollywood
The bright orange prototype of the 2012 Ford Focus EV--to be built for production using the next generation of Ford's compact 2012 Focus sedan, which hasn't yet been unveiled--had debuted in a September cameo on the Jay Leno Show, shot in Los Angeles.
Used on Leno's "Green Car Challenge," this new Focus EV was built around the 2009 Ford Focus model sold in Europe, which is a very different car than the U.S. model. Adapted to electricity, the five-door hatchback EV's front wheels are driven by a 105-kilowatt motor that's powered by a 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
Given its competition duties--it was driven by Drew Barrymore--the Leno Show's Focus EV included a full roll cage, Recaro sports seats, five-point racing harnesses, and suspension tuned for the track.
Electric car, Michigan factory
We drove the earlier 2012 Ford Focus EV prototype last spring, and were impressed by its refinement and lack of noise. We called it "maybe the most exemplary mule we've driven."
The production version of the 2012 Ford Focus EV will follow the 2010 launch of the 2011 Ford Focus by roughly a year. The electric Focus will be built in Ford's Wayne, Michigan, assembly plant alongside regular gasoline Focus models.