Green Update: $40,000 for a Focus EV?

Ford Focus Electric

The big news seems not to be the debut of Ford’s all-electric 2012 Focus but its price. At $39,995 (including destination fee), it is $3,995 more than the Nissan Leaf—its real competitor—and twice the price of a gas-powered Focus, to which it looks nearly identical.

Chevrolet’s Volt is priced the same but has the range-extender gas engine. Guess which car I’d want? Both are eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Ford pumps up the fact that the car will recharge in three to four hours using a 240-volt charging station (optional) and that it comes with a slew of standard equipment. The Leaf takes much longer and options out its equipment list.

Whether one would want all this stuff—MyFord Touch, rear camera, push-button start, MyKey, Bluetooth, SIRIUS satellite radio, etc., etc.—is surely questionable. Your only options are leather seats and two paint colors. “Build your car” with these two choices at the Ford site.

So, you may ask, what were they thinking? Ford’s EV was supposed to be cheaper since it was built on the existing Focus, using most of its parts. The Focus EV may be better-handling than the Leaf if Ford includes its torque vectoring control.

Focus Electric rear hatchBut otherwise, the company seems to be banking on the idea that GM used in the Cruze—include a lot of formerly optional “stuff” in the standard package. But EV buyers are a different breed, I maintain, and many would want just the base car. Opinions on forums and in comments so far are taking Ford to task for just misreading their market and/or being piggy.

Ford also seems to be banking that its name and reputation with the Focus will carry over and convince new buyers. For some, it is a better-looking car than the Leaf; for others, the Ford has the edge in its new battery technology—though they have severely compromised the usable rear hatch trunk space (above right).

I think you may well see a price war or at least some blowback from Nissan about this car. And in fact it has a good case to make.

Has Ford overpriced the Focus EV? Why so, or why not?


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  1. And if you don’t think they jack the price of these new EV’s, check out the prices on the incentiveless Prius.

  2. Oddly, the government incentives to purchase these vehicles adds a lot to the cost because the manufacturers simply boost the price by the same amount and pocket the extra. The fact that the vehicles are generally loaded up is because the manufacturer knows that customers think the price is excessive so want to add a lot of inexpensive, profitable features to ease the sting. As Joe mentioned, rediculous differences like $20,000 can never be recouped by fuel savings, and the long list of gadgets as well as highly toxic materials like lithium really brings the green designation into question.
    I’m actually a perfect candidate for an electric vehicle, but I won’t buy one until they cost under $20K for vehicles like the Leaf. Pushing over $30K, I the price of the Leaf is just as absurd as the Focus price. The best thing the government can do to reduce EV prices is to eliminate the consumer subsidy and give the automakers money to keep the price differential between gas and EV models much less than 100%.

  3. I really don’t feel like any EV is worth it today. Yes, there are significant cost savings with fuel (although can someone explain to me why the Volt takes high-octane premium gas instead of regular? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of saving on fuel?), but by the time you recoup all the extra money in fuel savings (nearly $20k with the Focus, not including the fed rebate), there’s a good chance the batteries will need to be replaced because they won’t hold a charge nearly as well as when they were new. My laptop’s battery (which is lithium-ion like a Volt’s and presumably the Focus EV’s) needed to be replaced after about 3 years of regular usage. That only cost me $40 off Amazon, I think to replace an EV’s batteries would be just a bit more. Hopefully the batteries that go into Volts, Leafs, and these new Focus EVs last much longer than 3 years

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