It's the first battery-electric car from a global automaker, a compact hatchback eagerly awaited for years and touted by some as a revolutionary vehicle that will change the way we drive forever.

It's not the Nissan Leaf.

It is, instead, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, which earned a higher efficiency rating (105 MPGe combined) and a longer electric range (76 miles) from the EPA than the 2012 Leaf.

It went on sale three months ago, and given its ratings, you might expect them to be flying out of the dealerships--or at least selling a fraction of what the Leaf does.

No such luck.

Instead, despite its class-topping ratings, a total of precisely 10 Focus Electrics were sold in December, January, and February: 7 of the cars squeaked into December sales, then 3 in January, but none at all were delivered last month.

By comparison, after the first three months of sales, buyers had snapped up 173 Nissan Leaf battery electric cars--and a relatively whopping 928 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric cars.

Lithium-ion battery pack installation in 2012 Ford Focus Electric at Wayne Assembly Plant

Lithium-ion battery pack installation in 2012 Ford Focus Electric at Wayne Assembly Plant

Worse yet, three weeks ago, the retail launch of the car--first scheduled for March, then for sometime in April or May--was pushed back to September, except for deliveries in California and New York.

So while the Focus Electric website still offers buyers the opportunity to place a reservation for the $39,995 car, it doesn't appear that most buyers will take delivery any time soon.

In December, Ford did a PR tour of the Wayne Assembly Plant where the Focus Electric is built on the same line as every other Ford Focus model. Regrettably, the company wasn't actually building Focus Electrics the day journalists visited.

And Ford has declined to say exactly how many Focus Electrics it has built since the start of production.

The latest company release, dated March 2, says only: Ford will ramp up Focus Electric retail production in the first half of 2012 for dealership availability in California, New York and New Jersey. By the end of 2012, Focus Electric will be available in 19 markets across the U.S.

So what's going on here?

We reached out to Ford for comment but, at the time this article was published, we had not received responses to several messages and e-mails. We'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we're beginning to wonder if the 2012 Ford Focus Electric should be considered the best production electric car that no one can buy.

If you've seen a Focus Electric at your Ford dealer, please leave us a note in the Comments below.


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