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Ford Insists Focus Electric is on Schedule

Denies reports of delays but confirms slow roll-out.

by on Aug.09, 2011

Not late, says Ford of the new Focus Electric, just getting a very slow production ramp-up.

While most potential buyers won’t be able to plug in a new Focus Electric until sometime next spring – at the earliest — Ford Motor Co. officials insist that earlier reports of a delay in the battery car program are in err.

Plans for Ford’s first electrified passenger car have always called for a slow roll-out, with only a select number of dealers in California and New York likely to take delivery of the Focus Electric before the end of 2011.

Reports of a delay – which appeared in a number of media outlets, including – were triggered by comments made by David Finnegan, Ford’s marketing chief for battery vehicles, on the company website  In it, the executive indicated that the rest of the 19 launch markets won’t see the Focus Electric until next spring. That echoed the wording in a new teaser ad campaign for the battery car.

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“Ford remains on schedule to deliver the initial Focus Electrics by the end of the year,” said a statement by the maker which noted that only California and New York will initially receive the vehicle.  “We will be rolling out to the remainder of the initial Focus Electric markets starting with production ramp up in spring 2012.”


Ford Lines up European Buyers for Transit Connect Electric Van

Fleet buyers helping push demand for battery power.

by on Mar.29, 2011

The Transit Connect Electric has a range of up to 80 miles per full charge, and can be recharged using 110 or 220 volts.

Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics have announced that the Norwegian Post has becomes the first European customer of the Ford Transit Connect Electric, placing an order for 20 of the battery-electric vans, or BEVs.

“The Norwegian Post will be an environmental leader in the mail and logistics industry by taking advantage of the latest technology available,” said Dag Mejdell, CEO of the Scandinavian nation’s postal service.

“In signing a contract for delivery of the new Ford Transit Connect Electric, the Norwegian Post is taking an important step towards its goal of reducing 150,000 (metric) tonnes of CO2 annually,” Mejdell said, noting his agency has an option to purchase more.

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Norwegian Post is the largest provider of mail and logistics services and the biggest employer in Norway.

Ford and its partner Azure Dynamics, of Oak Park, MI recently began a pilot program for the Transit Connect Electric last December.  (Click Here for more.) A conversion of the standard Transit Connect van, sales officially begin in the summer of 2011.


First Look: 2012 Ford Focus Electric

Detroit maker begins push to electrify its line-up.

by on Jan.07, 2011

Ford shows off the new Focus Electric battery car during a CES preview.

This is the year of the electric vehicle, or so proponents would like to believe, as a wave of battery cars make their debut and the first actually roll into showrooms.  Following last month’s debut of the low-volume Transit Connect Electric delivery van, Ford Motor Co. is rolling out what it hopes will be a more mainstream offering: a battery-powered version of its newly-redesigned compact hatchback, dubbed the Ford Focus Electric.

With an estimated range of 100 miles per charge, Ford’s offering won’t reach market until 2012, well behind the introductions of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, and the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.  But what the Focus Electric loses by not having first-mover advantage Ford is hoping to more than make up for by offering a wealth of features on its first battery-based passenger car.

The Ford Focus Electric is visually similar to the gas-powered compact, which is offered in both sedan and hatchback configurations.  But there will be a number of changes designed to improve its efficiency, critical when trying to maximize battery power.  That includes a revised grille, an enclosed underbody and special wheels meant to improve aerodynamics, as well as low rolling-resistance tires.

Meanwhile, an LED “light ring” will surround the electric charger port – repurposed from the fuel filler door on a conventional Focus.  Soft blue lights will flash to indicate the Focus Electric is charging and then to signal the battery has been topped off.


MyFordMobile App Designed to Enhance “Electrified Lifestyle”

System will not only pre-heat your battery car – but help you find a pizza.

by on Jan.07, 2011

A touch of the MyFordMobile app will give Focus Electric owners the ability to set charging times, pre-heat the cabin and more.

With the touch of a button on a smartphone the owner of a 2012 Ford Focus Electric will be able to program the car to begin charging, pre-heat the cabin on a cold day – or even find which pizza parlors are within range when the battery is already partially run down.

In a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, today, Ford CEO Alan Mulally will pull the wraps off the new MyFordMobile system, which will link an owner and vehicle in a way never before possible.

MyFordMobile is designed to enhance what the maker’s global product development chief, Derrick Kuzak, calls an “electrified lifestyle.”  More practically, the system helps minimize the drawbacks associated with electric vehicles while also enhancing their potential advantages.

Ford plans to be a major player in the electrification of the automobile.  It’s already launched a number of conventional gasoline-electric vehicles, such as the Escape Hybrid, and during his visit to CES Mulally will formally debut the Focus Electric.  The maker has already introduced the low-volume Transit Connect Electric, a battery-powered delivery van, but the Focus Electric takes aim at a more mainstream market.  Three plug-in hybrids are also under development by the Detroit maker.


Is There A Bright Future For Bright Automotive?

by on Dec.17, 2010

Un-plugged for now: the Bright Idea.

What appeared to be a bright future is now a bit more cloudy for Bright Automotive, one of the many start-ups hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in electric vehicles.

Launched in January 2008 by the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, Bright seemed poised to be one of the first makers to come to market with a competitive battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.  But battered by the recession and the tightening of the money markets, the spin-off has retrenched and is rethinking its strategy, but Bright still hopes to become a contender in the potentially lucrative electric vehicle market, contends its new chief operating officer.

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“We had to hit the pause button on our production program,” acknowledges Mike Donoughe, who signed on as Bright’s CEO in August.

The firm had been hoping to carve out a niche in what many believe will be the most promising segment of the battery-car market with the Bright Idea.  The plug-in hybrid delivery truck, which was previewed at the 2010 Washington Auto Show, was slightly larger than the Ford Transit Connect, a pure battery-electric offering that is just going into field testing.


Ford Betting On Partners As It Tests Battery Car Market

Maker ready to go it alone if market demand grows.

by on Dec.07, 2010

Ford will sell the Transit Connect Electric for $57,400, and expects demand for at least 700 during the coming year.

If it weren’t for the banner blowing in the wind over the front door one might not realize there was a revolution brewing inside the small, non-descript warehouse, along an industrial strip in the Detroit suburbs.

Operated by AM General, the company better known for producing the military’s trademark HUMMVEE, the facility has been quietly converting Ford’s little Transit Connect van to run on electric propulsion.  The first several dozen Transit Connect Electric vans will be reaching customers before year’s end.  And if they prove successful, 700 or 700 could follow in 2011.

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In automotive terms, that’s not much, but as the market for electric vehicles slowly begins to ramp up, that’s nonetheless a significant development suggests Sherif Marakby, who oversees Ford’s electrification program.

The maker had made a hefty investment in battery power back in the 1990s – reluctantly, under pressure from California regulators who had hoped they could mandate a battery car market.  The project failed and Ford, like its competitors, slashed its investment in the technology.  Now, however, battery power seems to be coming back, in part due to new regulations, but also because of new technologies, as well as public concerns about issues as far flung as global warming and the import of Mideast oil.


Ford Set To Roll Out First Transit Connect Electric Vans

First 29 set to begin fleet tests by year-end.

by on Nov.11, 2010

Ford's first electric vehicle will be a version of the Transit Connect utility van.

You might miss the little white van, hidden in the back of a nondescript warehouse in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, but it could kick off a significant revolution in the years ahead.

Later this month, the first 29 of those vans – or more precisely, those Transit Connect Electric vans – will begin to roll out of that warehouse, 14 of them heading for fleet tests in the U.K., the rest going to fleets here in the U.S.

The Transit Connect Electric is one of two battery-electric vehicles that Ford plans to bring to market in the next couple years, the other model being a lithium-powered version of the next-generation Focus.  The program has been pushed back a bit, at least in terms of retail sales, giving the maker a bit more opportunity to test the new models under more controlled fleet conditions.

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The Detroit maker has taken an unusually entrepreneurial approach to its initial battery car efforts, turning to two outside suppliers to help it get to market more quickly.  The Canadian mega-supplier, Magna, is taking the lead role in developing the Focus Electric, while another Canadian firm, Azure Dynamics, is spearheading the Transit Connect battery van project.

“We can do it quicker and for less money,” explained Azure Dynamics Chief Operating Officer Curt Huston, during an interview at the firm’s suburban Detroit facility.  The firm takes “gliders,” versions of the Transit Connect produced without a powertrain, and installs its own electric driveline.


Mahindra and Mahindra Goes Electric

Indian maker sees opportunity in mass market battery cars.

by on May.27, 2010

Mahindra & Mahindra's first entry into the U.S. is likely to be this pickup, but it isn't saying what models will eventually go electric.

The ambitious Indian vehicle builder Mahindra & Mahindra has entered the race to build a mass market electric vehicle by buying a majority interest in the REVA Electric Vehicle Company of Bangalore, India.

The new partnership, Mahindra REVA, will leverage Mahindra’s vehicle development expertise and open the door for REVA technology to be deployed in Mahnindra-designed vehicles, says the automaker, which has delayed its long-anticipated entry into the U.S. market as it finalizes work on a pair of light truck offerings.

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“The buyout makes the Mahindra group a strong global player in the electric vehicle space,” said Pawan Goenka, President Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors, Mahindra & Mahindra, who will serve as the chairman of the Mahindra REVA board.  The board will include five nominees from Mahindra & Mahindra, two from the Maini family, the founders of REVA, and one representative from REVA’s  American partner. AEV LLC.

Ford Adding Jobs as it Ramps Up EV Program

Investing $135 million, setting up Michigan center of excellence.

by on May.24, 2010

Transit Connect Electric will be the first step in the maker's expanding electric vehicle program.

With its first battery-electric vehicle set to go into production later this year, Ford Motor Co. is announcing big steps to move its “electrification’ program forward, including a $135 million investment and the creation of 220 new jobs.

Michigan will become its new “center of excellence” for the design, engineering and production of future battery-based vehicles, Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas, announced from the maker’s Rawsonville (Michigan) Assembly Plant, a facility that will produce a battery-electric version of the new Focus model.

Meanwhile, production of hybrid battery packs will now be moved from Mexico to the Detroit area.

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“Electrified vehicles are a key part of our plan to offer a full lineup of green vehicles, and we are building a center of excellence in the U.S., here in Michigan, to keep Ford on the cutting edge,” said Fields. “Today’s announcement is another important step in our larger strategy to launch a family of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles around the world.”

Along with conventional hybrid-electric vehicles, such as the Fusion Hybrid – which was named North American Car of the Year, last January – Ford plans to launch two models that will run solely on battery power: the Focus Electric and the Transit Connect Electric.