Ford Quality, Audi Price Tag

4 11 2011

The current generation Focus is a neat car. It’s great on fuel mileage. It has up-to-date-styling. It’s not a complete snoozefest to drive. And it’s affordable, with base models starting at just $16,500.

So how could Ford go wrong by building an electric version of the same car with a range of only 100 miles, then doubling the price?  From the press release, it seems that the only perks the $39,995 Focus EV will offer its prospective buyers are a subtle “Electric” badge and an unhealthy amount of factory-installed smugness.

For an extra $20k, they could have at least made the "Electric" badge a little bigger

For some perspective, this new Focus EV will cost about the same as a base model Audi A5 Coupe. Of course, a $7,500 Federal EV tax credit bumps that price down a bit (thanks, taxpayers!), and the Audi doesn’t offer the thrill of knowing that drivers have shifted CO2 emissions from the tailpipe to a power plant smokestack.

Yet where other electric car manufacturers like Tesla and Fisker have at least tried to offer a new product, Ford has crammed its new EV technology into…a Focus. Even the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have differentiated themselves from vehicles currently on the market in attempts to justify their luxury car price tags.

Also keep in mind that Ford, the manufacturer so proud of its new all-electric offering, is the same company whose reliability rating just tumbled – mostly as a result of faulty, hard to use electronics. Perhaps Ford should master conventional technology and make its already good lineup great before moving into the untested waters of fully-electric vehicles.

Some will argue that paying $40k for an economy car is simply an act of good environmental stewardship, and that buying a heavily subsidized, underperforming EV somehow makes one a pioneer. Sane consumers would be wise to ignore them, pass up Ford’s newest four-wheeled testament to eco-vanity, and enjoy the benefits of today’s advanced internal combustion technology.

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