• Jan 19th 2009 at 12:49PM
  • 11
Click the Focus EV "mule" for a high res gallery

There's been a lot of discussion in recent days about which debut was the most significant vehicle of this year's Detroit Auto Show. Most of the attention is, of course, paid to the new third-generation Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. While both of these are important in their own way, I don't think either is the most important. The Prius is a natural evolution of the preceding car but doesn't really break any new ground. That's not to take anything away from it, but so far the car seems to be exactly what's expected of a Prius. Similarly, the biggest thing about the Insight is its expected price and it's excellent driving dynamics.

The most significant car I saw (and drove) was the Ford Focus EV mule. This is a preview of a battery electric car that Ford plans to sell in two years. Ford plans to sell the production car at retail and, although the company has not specified a price, they did indicate that volumes at least in the thousands are expected. In order to achieve that goal, the price (at least after tax breaks) will have to be reasonably affordable. The fact that Ford felt confident enough in the program to allow media to spend two days driving the vehicles in downtown Detroit, rather than at a test track, indicates there is something real here.


Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it's very telling that Ford themselves didn't come up with this, but that Magna developed the vehicle and then showed it to Ford (who was obviously enthusiastic about it). Ford didn't do anything except know a good thing when it presented itself.

      Of course, that's not to say I won't be in line to get one if they're available soon enough. :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I also agree. An actual EV is much more important, than just improving the hybrids. Plus, this is more than just a concept, it's in the building stage (vs the "caddie" concept). Would love to know the milage range they're shooting for. 100 is good, plus, as always, if there could be optional ranges 200, 300. Was there talk of range extender or just a pure BEV? Without one, my minimum would definitely be the 100mi range.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The nominal range will be about 100 miles. Running accessories like the heater or AC will drag that down. Ford isn't currently working on a ER-EV that they will admit too. Instead they are focusing the other efforts on the PHEV system they have running in the Escape fleet right now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sam,

      I agree completely. This may very well be the first major BEV to the market--one that can carry 4 passengers and reach freeway speeds. If the range is reasonable (100 miles) and price is affordable ($20-$25,000), then I may be looking at my first EV.

      I am curious if you thought the "mule" was in good enough shape to say it's safe for production. I know you can't make the call, but you can certainly tell when something is thrown together for press releases (ie Chrysler's Dodge EV--the first version).
      • 6 Years Ago
      A major US automaker, the most financially stable one of the bunch, does a straightforward EV conversion of an existing model. How practical! During the 90s, when "spaceship EV-1" was touted, and wonderful as it was, THIS kind of simple conversion vehicle, engineered by its maker, was what everyone thought would be most sensible. Only Toyota's RAV4 implemented it. Perhaps unsurprisingly the RAV4 remains one of the longest lived and most successful of that era's commercial EVs. Go Ford!
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Only Toyota's RAV4 implemented it. Perhaps unsurprisingly the RAV4 remains one of the longest lived and most successful of that era's commercial EVs."

        If I read my Wikipedia correctly, the Ford Ranger EV went on sale four years before the RAV4 EV. The year Ford stopped, Toyota started.

        In the end, both companies sold about 1500 EVs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      No chance this is a $25,000 car.

      Currently I'd expect the 23kWh lithium battery alone to cost more than $20,000 (unless it's a kludge like the Tesla pack)

      It is unrealistic at this time to expect 100 miles from a 4-door BEV unless you're willing to pay Whitestar prices.

      For a mass-market priced EV fossil-fueled range extenders are still a necessity given current battery prices.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1
        • 6 Years Ago
        Let's assume they can bring the cost of a battery down to $15 000 dollars in two years, a reasonably equipped focus costs around $15 000 thats $30 000 minus at least $5000 for the engine/transmission, thats $25 000.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sam, I also agree with IF the car is ever produced in large numbers (250k/yr) and IF it RETAILS for under $25K not including tax breaks.

      If it costs over $30K, then people should go ahead and buy a Volt so they wouldn’t need to keep (or rent) a 2nd car for those occasional long trips. Then again, each person’s situation will dictate their choice.

      This economy will force people to re-evaluate NEEDS vs. WANTS.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just found out about the Ford plans today... and at the moment it looks like they may be the only one of the "Big 3" that might be able to make it happen. I wish 'em luck with it!