As Ford was getting ready to make its big announcement this week in Detroit that it would build and sell a battery electric car beginning in 2011, I got a call asking if I'd like to come down and drive one of the development "mules." Being loathe to reject such opportunities, we immediately worked on squeezing it into the busy auto show schedule. Right after the Fisker press conference on Monday, I headed over to the Ford booth to get my ride.
A "mule" vehicle in automotive engineering parlance, is a non-representative vehicle fitted with a new powertrain or suspension components for testing purposes. In this case, Ford had a pair of current Focus sedans equipped with an electric drive train and lithium ion battery pack that was developed in partnership with Magna International. I spent some time chatting with chief engineer Greg Frenette and Magna rep Dick Devogelaere about the car and what we would see for production in two years time. The production model will be based on Ford's C-segment platform, meaning it will be Focus-sized. However, Ford has already said it will have several vehicles in the U.S. market off this platform, including an MPV like the European C-Max. Frenette would not say which body style would initially get the electric drive.
One item he would confirm was that there would be none of the whole leasing and taking back of the electric cars that other companies are still infamous for. The new EV will be sold outright to retail customers through Ford dealers beginning in 2011. Pricing is still undetermined. Check out the video after the jump and the full drive report on Green Fuels Forecast.