Ford: No Updates for Focus Electric, Too Niche

By · June 12, 2013

Ford Focus Electric

The Ford Focus EV will remain the same for 2014.

The Detroit News reported today that Ford will not update its Focus Electric for the 2014 model year, calling the decision “an unusual non-move for an automaker that often tinkers with vehicle packages and options on a yearly basis.” Indeed, as major carmakers have tweaked their plug-in models to spark new interest and address shortcomings, Ford’s complacency confirms the company's lack of faith in the market for pure electric cars.

Improvements to the 2013 Nissan LEAF this year, and a lower price, contributed to its quadrupling of monthly sales numbers over last year’s, but Ford seems to have little interest in positioning the Focus to compete with top-selling plug-in models. Ford sold just 723 units of the Focus EV this year through May, for a total of merely 1,416 sales since the car began hitting dealerships last year. The LEAF meanwhile racked up 7,614 sales so far in 2013.

One of the chief reasons that the Focus Electric failed to gain momentum with buyers is price, which still hovers at $39,200 after a $2,000 price drop earlier this year. Where Nissan has been able to cut the price of its base model LEAF to less than $29,000, Ford has neither made an effort to bring down production costs on the Focus nor been willing to sell the car at a loss in an effort to move inventory. Last year, when LEAF sales languished in anticipation of a 2013 model refresh, Nissan offered major discounts in an effort to clear inventory—a move that has been copied by Chevy this year as sales of the Volt have recently cooled.

It is also been widely reported by car buyers that Ford dealerships and sales staff are not informed about the availablity of the brand's electric cars, and lack any motivation to sell plug-in models.

Despite Ford’s denials that the Focus Electric was exclusively created to comply with California's zero emissions mandates, the company's latest actions confirm its reluctance in the EV space. As senior analyst Michelle Krebs told The Detroit News, “It's almost like an obligatory vehicle they have to have for fuel economy and image. Ford’s heart is not in this.” Ford director of global electrification Nancy Giola more or less confirmed as much, telling the paper, “We still see battery electric as niche.”

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