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Ford Australia not in a rush for Focus EV

Electric dreams: Local buyers will have to wait for the Ford Focus Electric as it will be launched in Europe before landing on Australian shores.

Focus Electric starts US rollout, but 2014 earliest likely date for Ford Oz

21 May 2012

AUSTRALIAN Ford customers will probably have to wait until 2014 for a chance to buy the Blue Oval’s first full-electric passenger vehicle, the Focus Electric, which this week was being shipped to selected dealerships in the United States.

Ford Australia said it is still awaiting confirmation of the battery-powered hatchback for this market, saying it will be a regional decision made by Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps told GoAuto that, even if the green light was given to local sales of the Focus Electric, it would not be rolled out across the region until after the planned European debut in 2013.

“The EV, if we get it here, will be part of an Asia Pacific-wide program it wouldn’t be something that we would bring in just by ourselves,” she said. “Other markets in Asia would need to get it as well.

“It is rolling out in California and across the US at the moment. Next, it is going to be rolling out across Europe early next year, and we are still looking at its applicability here.

“We would like it, but we are concerned about whether Australian consumers are ready for it. There is not really enough infrastructure here yet to support such a vehicle, either.”

Asked if Australia and the rest of the region would likely get the Focus Electric in 2013 after the European debut, Ms Phipps said: “Later – absolutely later.”

She said it was too early to say if the electric version of the Focus would go into production in Thailand alongside the standard Focus sedan and hatch.

The Thai plant is just a few months away from supplying most of Ford Australia’s Focus stock, although the new-generation Focus ST hot hatch will still come from Ford of Europe’s Saarlouis plant in Germany.

27 center imageLeft: Ford Focus Electric and Ford Focus ST.

So far, the only plant producing the Focus Electric is one of Ford’s Detroit plants, in Wayne, Michigan.

According to Reuters, Ford has started shipping about 350 Focus Electric five-door hatchbacks built at the plant to 67 dealerships in California, New Jersey and New York.

It says each dealer will get about six cars, one of which will be a demonstrator.

The roll-out will be extended to 19 cities in the US by the end of the northern summer, with the remainder of the US getting the vehicle by the end of the year.

As well, Ford is getting ready to launch a plug-in hybrid version of its mid-size Fusion, claiming it will be the country’s most fuel-efficient mid-sized sedan.

The two models are part of Ford’s plan to triple production of electrified vehicles in North America by the end of 2013.

The Focus Electric will go head-to-head with Nissan’s all-electric Leaf and, to some extent, General Motors’ range-extender Volt.

Ford says the Focus Electric can be charged in about half the time of the Leaf, thanks to a larger on-board charger.

As well, the Ford system has embedded Microsoft-developed software that is said to select the most affordable electricity provider to reduce charging costs.

Armed with a 23kWh lithium-ion battery and 100kW electric motor, the Focus Electric is said to have a range of about 120km and is priced at $US39,995 ($A40,558) – well above the most expensive conventional Focus.

In Australia, the flagship Focus Titanium sells for $36,590 (plus on-road costs) and, while no pricing projections have been given for a Focus Electric in this market, consumers can expect to pay considerably more here than their American counterparts, who enjoy US federal and state subsidies.

Ms Phipps said potential high cost of the Focus Electric was the reason Ford Australia was concentrating on the rollout of the EcoBoost engines across its range.

“The (EV) technology is quite expensive, affordability is an issue and infrastructure is an issue,” she said. “That’s why we think EcoBoost works better in this market, particularly for now.”

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