The 2012 Ford Focus Electric is officially on its way to dealerships. Outlets in California, New Jersey, and New York – 67 in all – are going to be the first to receive the electron-fueled Focus, with about six cars each winding up on lots. To help dealers build more excitement for what's likely to be a slow-starting sales story, the dealers will hold one of the Focus EVs as a demonstrator.

Even if fewer than 5,000 Focus Electric models find buyers this year, Alan Mulally won't be disappointed. While Ford ultimately expects electrics and hybrid vehicles to account for up to 25 percent of its sales volume by 2020, the company is moving deliberately. Rather than develop and tool an entirely new platform, Ford's move to modify the Focus for electric propulsion is said to allow some semblance of a profit margin, but it's going to take time for consumers to warm to the idea of a $40,000 Focus, even if a third of that price is the battery, and Ford appears to be keeping this in mind.

After the initial 350 or so cars are delivered to the pilot stores, the rest of the Ford dealers across the nation will start getting the Focus EV before spring turns into summer.