A beautiful 85 degrees day with bright sunshine at the base of the Rocky Mountain Foothills, that is where the bright orange all-electric Ford Focus was sitting just begging to taken for a drive. The best part, we can honestly say we weren’t putting out any emissions while taking our drive through the foothills. Besides being green, a least in the environmental aspect, this particular Ford Focus Electric is the exact same car that was used in the Jay Leno Green Car Challenge during the brief late night talk show shuffle last summer. Exciting right? Even more exciting was the experience being behind the wheel.

Ford Focus Electric - Refueling Area

Ford Focus Electric - Refueling Area

Now, I just want to say that Ford didn’t buy me lunch, pull an Oprah and give me a new car or anything like that. They simply invited me out to experience the all-electric powertrain wrapped in a spiffy orange paint job. Since electric cars are a little hard to come by, I thought this would be a great way to experience what they are like and experience where Ford has gotten to with their vehicle development. The results were actually pretty surprising, especially considering I was driving a preproduction vehicle.

 As preproduction vehicles go this one was very well sorted. It even had carpet covering the battery pack that takes up part of the trunk compartment. The major difference when getting into the Focus Electric is the way the gauges look. Instead of an RPM gauge you have a meter measuring your power consumption and power recovery through regenerative breaking. Other than that, we pushed the start button, put it in gear and took off. The first thing you notice is how quiet it is, the second thing you notice is that there is a slightly different feel to the transfer of power. Some electric cars have a simulated creep to make it more familiar, but this pre production vehicle, especially on the hill didn’t go until I pressed on the accelerator. Once we were moving it was easy to get up to 30 or 40 mph and maintain speed, even up the foothills of Boulder, Colo.

The greatest praise I could give the preproduction is that I felt like I could drive it home right there and then. With a target of 100-mile range (our drive showed 88 left until empty) the 2011 Nissan Leaf could…no, will have some serious competition. The equivalent of 140 horsepower doesn’t hurt either. Stay tuned for more on the Ford Focus EV and look for it to come out the fall of 2011.