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Ford electrifies the Focus

Fri, 07 Jan 2011

Don't be fooled by the Aston Martin-like grille and the stretched headlights--the Ford Focus electric has some serious green-car ethos.

The Focus five-door hatch will be Ford's first-ever all-electric passenger car when it launches in late 2011. It can travel at speeds up to 84 mph and takes three to four hours to charge on a 240-volt outlet. But the Blue Oval is quick to note that much of the steering, handling and braking characteristics are similar to those of the Focus's conventionally powered sibling.

“That is what we have today is a real car,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford's electrification programs and engineering. “The customer doesn't experience powertrain. The customer experiences the car.”

The electric Focus debuts on Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, followed by an encore at the Detroit auto show on Monday.

Power comes from a 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, an electric motor and a single-speed transmission.

The Focus electric will be Ford's flagship offering among five electric vehicles planned by 2013 for North America and Europe. Specs were not revealed immediately, but Ford claims it will register a better miles-per-gallon equivalent than the Chevrolet Volt.

The exterior is marked with a lined grille and stretched headlights, hence the Aston comparison. Enhanced MyFord Touch (with a gauge that shows butterflies to indicate eco driving), 17-inch aluminum wheels, Sirius satellite radio and navigation are standard. Other features include Sync connectivity, biofoam seat cushions and interior parts derived from recycled materials.

The car gets the MyFord Mobile app, which allows users to check battery status, calculate routes and remotely charge their rides. Ford will also sell chargers for the car through Best Buy, and the universal pugs will fit any car.

Additionally, Ford has a deal with Microsoft for “value charging” that allows the battery to be charged during the least expensive times.

The Focus electric will be assembled in Wayne, Mich., at a former truck factory alongside other versions of the car.

In other news, Ford said it will sell 240-volt chargers for the Focus electric at Best Buy for $1,499, including the unit and installation. It takes three to four hours to charge the car. Interestingly, Ford notes that because the plugs are universal, other electric car owners could purchase the unit and use them.

By Greg Migliore