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Consumer electronics Show:

Ford unveils electric car at CES set for launch this year

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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Alan Mulally demonstrates plugging in the Ford Focus Electric to a charging station at the International Consumer Electronics Show Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 in Las Vegas.

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Ford Motor Company unveiled its first-ever zero emissions, electric passenger vehicle during Friday’s keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally presented Ford’s electric Focus, which he claims charges faster and gets better mileage than its competitors.

"We know that many customers are excited to drive an electric vehicle and never visit a fuel station again," Mulally said.

Ford executives said customers aren’t just committing to a car when they buy the electric Focus — they are committing to a lifestyle change. But Mulally admitted the battery on the Focus won’t last as long as a full tank of gas and drivers would have to think cautiously about where their next closest charge station is.

The Focus 23 kWh lithium-ion battery will take about three hours to charge on a 240-volt outlet (20 hours on a standard 120-volt) and will have about 80 miles of drive time, depending on how the car is being driven.

The Focus will launch later this year (the price wasn't discussed) and Mulally said it will be one of five fully electric cars the company will offer in North America and Europe by 2013.

One of the issues Ford might face in entering the electric car market is a lack of public charging stations for its drivers. Ford executives said there are only about 1,800 charging stations in the U.S. and most are in California. But the company said electric car drivers will find more than 12,000 charge stations across the country by the end of 2012.

For electric car drivers wanting a charge station in their home, getting one might be just as easy as getting a TV installed. Ford announced Friday that it has partnered with Best Buy and the Geek Squad as the exclusive seller, installer and tech support provider for their 240-watt charging stations.

The electric Focus comes with all of Ford’s in-vehicle technologies that the company has launched in recent years, along with features specifically for electric car drivers.

Those features include Ford’s interactive “MyFord Touch” system customized for electric drivers to help monitor battery life and coach drivers on how to conserve it.

Ford and Microsoft have partnered to bring electric drivers a smart phone app called “MyFord Mobile,” which helps owners plug in remotely, advise drivers when utility rates are at their lowest and search MapQuest for charging stations.

Other features the new Focus will include are Ford’s voice-activated communications and entertainment system and MyKey, which encourages teens to drive more safely and improve efficiency.

Mulally said Ford will be showing off other electric vehicles at the International Auto Show, but for the electric Focus and all of its preloaded features, he said CES seemed like the perfect fit to showcase the car.

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  1. Making Best Buy the exclusive seller of the charging stations may not be a good idea.

    There are many of us that have no desire to deal with Best Buy. That could hinder the sale of your cars.

    Why an exclusive? I am sure there are many other companies that would be happy to take part of the contract. Lowes, Home Depot.

    After all, they are dealing in working on the electrical system of your house to install the charging station.

    Why limit yourself?

  2. I don't like Best Buy either. Buy they have the most well known home installer electronics company. Home Depot and Lowes don't have a sub-brand or partnership with a home installation company, I think they just use some random local company. As long as they have licensed electricians (the 240V charger costs $1500 plus installation costs if they have to do a lot of work to wire up a dedicated circuit from your breaker box).

    Also, understand that the new electric Focus (as well as the GM's new VOLT) have *heavy* influence from Consumer Electronics, which is Best Buy's game. Both GM and Ford have smartphone apps that allow complete vehicle telematics (battery charge, etc), things like traffic & destinations like sending your destination to the car, and letting it compute the best way to get there and tell you when to leave if you want to get there by a certain time. So its not unreasonable to see that in addition to the charging station, BB/GS will also help you with setting up the phone app and teaching you how to use it (car dealerships aren't exactly known for their technical prowess).

  3. I wonder if some cowboy ever said the horseless carriage was not the future.
    And when the automobile first appeared I'm almost certain there were not a lot of service stations either, These will come about with demand that's why I think a hybrid would make a good transition car.