As yet another sign of the gap being bridged between consumer electronics and cars, Ford decided to unveil not only the interface inside its upcoming Ford Focus Electric at the sprawling Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but the production version of the car itself.

For those who have been following the development of the Focus EV, there are few surprises, or changes in plans, from earlier versions the automaker has been teasing through to this production-ready Focus Electric. Designed with enough range to cover the daily-driving habits of most Americans, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric is powered by a permanent-magnet electric motor making 123 hp (92 kW) and 181 pound-feet of torque. Packaged just under the back seats is a 23-kWh LG Chem (and Holland, Michigan-assembled) battery pack that's actively liquid-heated and cooled, to help maximize battery life and range.

Fun to drive for greenies and everyone else?

Ford is emphasizing that the 2012 Ford Focus Electric is a real car, capable of accelerating smoothly to a top speed of 84 mph.

More than Nissan is doing with its Leaf EV, Ford is pitching the Focus Electric as an EV that's exciting to drive. "Much of Focus Electric's steering, handling, and braking feel is shared with the agile, sporty, fuel-powered Focus models upon which it's based, making Focus Electric a dynamic driver's car," Ford says in a release.

Nut EV enthusiasts are anticipated to be a large portion of Focus Electric buyers; Ford says that "achieving maximum range in Focus Electric will be a big part of the fun for most drivers."

Lots of information, and an app, to help ease range anxiety

To that, the driver interface of the Focus Electric appears to be designed both to ease range anxiety and to produce the most thrills for serious EV enthusiasts. A MyView function allows you to access electrical demand data for air conditioning and accessories, helping you to better estimate driving range. And, building on the leaves and vine of the gauge cluster in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Focus Electric used blue butterflies to show, constructively, the driver's surplus range at the moment beyond the charge-point destination. At the end of each driving session, the display shows distance traveled, miles gained through regenerative braking, total energy consumed, and an estimated gasoline savings. These functions are also available, via a connectivity module in the car, from the computing cloud with the MyFord Mobile app.


The dashboard of the Focus Electric incorporates MyFord Touch, the system so far only offered in the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX (and also to be available on other 2012 Focus models)—though building on the gauge cluster that's been used in the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Like the Fusion Hybrid, the Focus Electric has a central analog speedometer flanked by two smaller 4.2-inch screens; the left screen shows other gauge readouts such as state of charge, distance to empty, and the corresponding budget—along with, to put an optimistic spin on it, any 'range surplus' beyond the charge point. There's also a readout to show how much energy you recaptured via regenerative braking. On the right-side screen, there's a graphical representation of butterflies that build as you drive in a more energy-efficient manner.

Big touch-screen interface

The other features of MyFord Touch are there are well, though, including the big eight-inch iPad-like touch screen, which comes with a built in nav system and can advise on driving routes and ranges via EcoRoute options. Charging information is available directly through SYNC Traffic, Directions, and Information.

Safety equipment includes six airbags, and on the green front eco-friendly materials include bio-foam seat cushions and recycled fabrics.

The Focus Electric will be outfitted as a premium vehicle inside; standard features include the MyFord Touch interface and connectivity tech, a Sony Audio system with nine speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio with Travel Link, HD Radio, and a voice-activated navigation system. No function will be given up either, as the rear bench seat is 60/40-split and folds. In North America, the Focus Electric will also be offered with MyKey.

The Focus EV will charge in just three to four hours with a (recommended) wall-mounted 240-volt charging station, according to Ford, which points out that's half the time of the Nissan Leaf. A 120-volt cord comes with the vehicle.

When the Focus is plugged in for charging (with its standard five-point connector), a light ring illuminates to indicate connectivity; quadrants of the ring represent progress in charge completion.

Not just a niche vehicle

The Focus EV is just part of a broad electrification strategy from Ford, including a plug-in hybrid in 2012, two next-gen hybrid models with lithium-ion batteries in 2012, and the Ford Transit Connect Electric van that's already been delivered to some fleet customers.

But Ford has much bigger plans for the Focus Electric; its production volume will far surpass the niche Transit Connect Electric, and it's been estimated that Ford will make about 15,000 Focus Electrics per year; that's higher volume than the Chevrolet Volt, but not at the level Nissan hopes to achieve with its Leaf.

The Focus Electric will go on sale late this calendar year in North America and in Europe in 2012.