Though the Ford Focus Electric has been on the market nearly as long as the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF, it hasn’t had nearly as much success. That’s mostly Ford’s fault, as the Blue Oval put almost no marketing muscle behind the Focus Electric, and it always seemed a few steps behind the competitors with things like price cuts.
Yet that could change if a report from Automobile Magazine is true. Ford is supposedly building a 200-mile electric car to compete with the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model III, with a price tag somewhere below $40,000. Furthermore, it will come to market sometime in 2017, with a big reveal scheduled for later this year. That would mean it would release within months of both the Chevy and the Tesla, putting Ford in a good place to actually compete for electric vehicle buyers this time around.
Why the sudden about-face on EVs? I think a lot of it has to do with newly-minted CEO Mark Fields, who is inheriting a much healthier company than his predecessor, giving him more room to take product chances. The Focus Electric was a compliance car in every sense of the word, and Ford treated it as such, ceding the early EV market to Nissan and Chevy. But with electric vehicle sales gaining steam and a nationwide network of chargers After just a few weeks on the job, Fields told the media that if Ford was to make an electric car, it would have to be a “Tesla for the masses”, and that appears to have been more than just a hint of what to expect. Also, Ford’s efforts to take on the Toyota Prius with the C-Max hybrid fell flat, which may have it taking a different approach…which hopefully includes a purpose-built EV platform.
There’s also Ford’s long-standing rivalry with Chevy to consider too. The Blue Oval and Bowtie brands have been going head-to-head for decades now in just about every market segment, and Ford would be hard pressed to explain why it let GM widen its advantage with EVs. Ford bought itself some time with the Focus Electric and Fusion/C-Max Energi models, but with upstarts like Tesla and old rivals like GM making electric cars more popular, and viable than ever, it’s about time Ford got it’s shit together.
Maybe I’ll even change my mind about what my next car will be.
UPDATE: Ford reached out to say that “these reports are not accurate.” That’s a shame, because for a second I thought FOrd might be a contender for my next new car purchase.