Ford Focus Electric slashes sticker price, but will it matter?
Ford is a bit of an enigma in the electric vehicle sector. On the one hand, the Blue Oval enthusiastically endorses its Fusion and C-Max Energi models, and has devoted a great deal of attention and resources to supporting the adoption of its electric cars. On the other, the poor Focus Electric is largely neglected and sold in small volumes, which seems to have been Ford’s intent from the start.
$6K price cut
When Ford Focus Electric debuted as a 2012 model, it came with a hefty $39,995 price tag. Though it is a solid electric car in the guise of a popular and universally known nameplate, its 76 miles of range and high sticker price meant it was not destined to break sales records.
Quite the contrary: the Focus EV sold 685 units in 2012, and an uninspiring 1,738 in 2013. The 2014 model which debuted last year, however, brought with it a $4,000 price cut – to a more reasonable (but still excessive) $35,995. This has had little effect, as 2014 sales are only on pace for about 2,000 units.
Now LeftLaneNews reports (via Green Car Reports) that an additional $6,000 price reduction on the 2015 and remaining 2014 Focus Electrics will soon be made official, as dealer documents indicate Ford’s intent to lower the sticker price.
This new MSRP of $29,995 puts the Focus Electric SEL (Ford’s highest trim level below Titanium) on par with the entry-level Nissan LEAF S, which starts at $29,010 and offers 84 miles of range but does not come standard with the 6.6 kW onboard charger of the Focus Electric.
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Given that the 2015 Focus will still be using the same battery pack that former CEO Alan Mullaly admitted to cost $12,000 to $15,000 in 2012, Ford may be taking a financial hit with the price reduction. Though the automaker has no doubt found some ways to cut costs since the introduction of the Focus Electric, it won’t be a profitable model for the company at least until it gets an upgraded battery, if it lives to see a second generation.
What effect will the new price have?
At a competitive price point at last, the Focus Electric could finally compete with the LEAF – both vehicles offer a similar size and value proposition, after all. And considering the Nissan is on pace for about 30,000 sales this year with virtually no true competitors (i.e. non-compliance cars at a similar price point), there would appear to be a significant chunk of market share out there for the taking.
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Alas, don’t expect this version of the Focus to take advantage of its shiny new price. Though the EV is technically available nationwide (unlike compliance cars) it is not easy to find. Nissan keeps many of its dealers stocked with at least one LEAF and often more, but good luck tracking down a Focus Electric near you. Even if your local dealer has one, Ford dealers are somewhat notorious for being unenthusiastic about the Focus Electric, if they admit they know it exists at all.
We do not believe that Ford is serious about selling the current Focus Electric. The company has downplayed the vehicle since its introduction and does virtually no marketing for it, and clearly has only intended to build and sell the car in limited volumes.
That’s not to say that the next generation of the Focus Electric, or whatever model succeeds it as Ford’s all-electric car, will not sell in greater volumes. As most of the major automakers are in a race to build a 200-mile EV, Ford is certainly in the running at the very least given its overall commitment to electric vehicles.
The price cut may be a sign of good things to come from the Blue Oval, but we will just have to wait and see. At the very least, if you always liked the Focus Electric but couldn’t quite afford one, now is your chance to own a well-built electric vehicle at a reasonable price that is available nationwide and doesn’t come with the odd looks of a LEAF. Just be prepared for a more difficult car hunt than you may be used to.