Though it’s not saying why, Ford has decided to slow down the planned roll-out of its first battery-electric passenger car, the Focus Electric. Originally scheduled to charge in 19 markets before the end of this year, the maker now will roll the battery car into dealerships in New York and California by the end of 2011. Potential buyers will have to wait until next spring in the rest of those launch markets.
The Focus Electric is one of five plug-in and battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, Ford plans to bring to market over the next several years. The first, a battery-powered version of the Transit Connect, made its debut in the final weeks of 2010. Ford also plans to introduce a plug-in version of the upcoming C-Max microvan, dubbed C-Max Energi, as well as a more conventional version of the people-mover.
But the maker has been investing a lot of time and energy into promoting the battery-electric version of its all-new Focus model, Ford CEO Alan Mulally even going on the David Letterman late night talk show, last week, to promote the BEV.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise when the maker posted a promo ad for the Focus Electric that noted the new model would be, “Coming in spring 2012,” months later than originally expected.
Ford officials won’t discuss the delayed roll-out, but the maker won’t be the first to take its time when it comes to launching battery technology. Both Nissan and Chevrolet chose to go it slow with the initial production of their Leaf and Volt models, respectively. Nissan only recently began ramping up Leaf output, while Chevy is turning up the line speed at its factory in Detroit with the goal of pushing Volt sales to roughly 16,000 by year’s end.
(Click Here for more on plans for Volt and Leaf.)
One reason has been the desire to avoid any major quality problems when working with entirely new production technologies. Even so, Nissan wound up having to address an unexpected stalling problem on a small number of its new battery cars.
The Focus Electric will notably mark the first time Ford has used lithium-ion technology in one of its vehicles.
Clarifying its launch plans, David Finnegan, Ford’s manager of electrified vehicles, said, “For the first few months of production, we will be concentrating on California and New York. Our dealers in those areas will be the first to have their retail orders scheduled and receive the Focus Electric. We will be rolling out to the remainder of our initial markets starting in Spring 2012,” reported AutoBlog.com.
By spring of 2012, Ford plans to increase Focus Electric availability to the other 17 markets, which include: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh Durham, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tucson and Washington, D.C. It will eventually follow with a nationwide roll-out of its new battery car.