Ford Focus Electrics are now rolling down the assembly line in Saarlouis, Germany, where the company invested 16 million euros to add the electric version to its existing Focus production line. The Focus Electric will go on sale in Europe in August, and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid will join it next year.
“Focus Electric marks the dawn of an exciting new age of full-electric Ford passenger vehicles in Europe, and demonstrates the success of the One Ford strategy in making this sophisticated vehicle available to our European customers,” said Ford of Europe VP Barb Samardzich. “It’s a car that addresses the mobility demands and environmental concerns of today’s car buyers in the most direct way possible – combining performance and advanced technology with a zero-emission powertrain.”
Back home in Michigan, the Detroit News reported that Ford will not be making any upgrades to the Focus Electric for the 2014 model year, saying, “It’s an unusual non-move for an automaker that often tinkers with vehicle packages and options on a yearly basis.”
It’s no secret that Ford has little interest in selling the Focus Electric, at least for now. Nancy Gioia, Ford’s Director of Global Electrification, said this week, “The batteries are still very expensive, and the payback period tough. We still see battery electric as niche. We think that by focusing on the plug-ins and that awareness, we actually end up benefiting both the hybrids and the plug-ins.”
This is consistent with what Ms Gioia told Charged last July – that she foresees a gradual progression from hybrids to PHEVs to pure EVs. “The biggest element to make EVs affordable is more hybrid volume in the near- and mid-term. If you really want to see electrified vehicles work, what we have to do is make the business sustainable.”
Gioia also said this week that Ford has no plans to match the $200-a-month lease deals on offer from other EV makers: “We’re not going to chase down to the lowest price possible – that doesn’t make sense to erode the brand image or the true value of the product.”
The Focus Electric is now on sale across the US, but so far this year, it has sold only 723 units, compared to 7,614 for the Nissan LEAF.