European Reviews Arrive: Ford Focus Electric Is A Winner, But It’s Too Darn Expensive

4 years ago by Jay Cole 16

Focus Electric Almost Ready For Delivery to Europe's Wealthy Buyers

Focus Electric Almost Ready For Delivery to Europe’s Wealthy Buyers

For the US electric vehicle buyer, we have become fairly accustomed to the Ford Focus Electric; we know what it is, and what it can do.

The Focus Electric Sports One Of The More Refined Interiors In The EV Segment

The Focus Electric Sports One Of The More Refined Interiors In The EV Segment

We also know that the car’s pricing is keeping the model in sales check, and that is despite a recent $4,000 sticker reduction to $35,200 just over 2 months ago.

In the United States, the electric Focus averages about 150-175 sales per month, while Nissan’s LEAF (from $28,800) routinely sells more than 2,000 per month; and just last month set a new BEV record with 2,420 sold.

Our own Lyle Dennis did a review (which you can read here) on one of the very first to be put on sale in the US and found the car to be more than capable, and offered in a pretty nice packaged compared to other EVs on the market…in fact he bought it himself:

Lyle's "Famous" Chevy Volt And Current Focus Electric Together

Lyle’s “Famous” Chevy Volt And Current Focus Electric Together

“The Focus has a very nice design.  It is a medium sized hatchback with European flair.  It is low to the ground with large-looking tires and wheels, is wide stanced and taut.  It has a graceful and aggressive aesthetic and doesn’t have a dorky green-car look.  Though low to the ground I found it never scrapes in locations where my Volt front wind-foil always does.  The grill is interesting and futuristic.  There is ample visibility both front and rear.

The Ford Focus Electric is a well-conceived and well-executed pure electric vehicle.  It is sleek, fun to drive, and full of the latest technology.  Its 76 mile range is real world and will easily be even better for feather-footed hypermilers.  The price of $39,995 (Editor’s note:  the car is now priced at $35,200+dest) is steep when considering the fact that an identical-shelled Focus gas version is only $18,300.  Buyers at this point in time will still pay heavily for the privilege of driving on electricity.”

For Europeans, they seem to mostly agree with Lyle’s conclusions; but even more so on the MSRP which is significantly higher in Europe despite the car now being produced “locally” in Germany.

This is a portion of Autocar’s take away on the vehicle itself:

“The Focus is one of our favourite hatchbacks and the Electric version packs all the dynamic appeal of the conventionally powered versions, which means beautifully weighted steering and a composed chassis with a fine balance between ride and agility…like its rivals the Focus Electric’s powerpack is smooth and refined. In fact in conventionally powered cars you’d have to pay north of £100k and step into luxury limo territory to experience cabin serenity like this.”

Focus Electric Getting Assembled in Germany

Focus Electric Getting Assembled in Germany

Autocar finds just about everything pleasant on the car, including a  “surprising turn of speed at lower speeds,” that is until the Focus EV reaches 60 mph and the car hits the performance wall that effects all entry level plug-ins not named the Spark EV.

But then there is the price.  Ford says they only expect to sell about 25 in the UK next year, and Autocar’s reaction to the price underlines the fact that Ford seems to know its market fairly well.

“Priced from £33,500 ($52,300USD), which drops to £28,580 ($44,700 US) when the government’s plug-in car grant is deducted, the Focus Electric is considerably more expensive than a Renault Fluence ZE, which lists at £21,495, reduced to £17,495 by the grant and a Nissan Leaf, which starts from £16k.”

…given the rather optimistic pricing, it would be a very, very keen driver who ignored the vastly cheaper opposition, particularly since the role of an EV is urban pottering about.  Ford isn’t too bothered about pricing, because the bulk of deliveries will be absorbed into fleet contracts where the list price is only part of the deal equation.”

So like here in the US,  the Focus Electric is indeed appealing to a wide segment of the EV-buying population…but not so much to their wallets.

Check out Autocar’s full review here.

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16 responses to "European Reviews Arrive: Ford Focus Electric Is A Winner, But It’s Too Darn Expensive"

  1. alainl007 says:

    Hello,

    The only company that really wants to sell electric cars is Tesla. The rest is in conflict with old engines. Proof? What company offers 60 kwh battery option? No one except Tesla! Only batteries Flashlight + -22 Kwh! Not even 40!! If Tesla did not exist, nobody would sell electrics cars! Thank you Tesla for saving the planet.

    Regards.

    1. It’s not a conflict with gas engines, it is rather a desire to be profitable. Tesla is (currently) a low volume producer, with an actual rate of around 25,000 cars/year, priced at $85,000+. The high volume producers need to make money on cars that normal people can afford. Electric isn’t there yet.

    2. Spec says:

      ” If Tesla did not exist, nobody would sell electrics cars!”

      What? No. They sell more Leafs and Volts than Teslas.

      1. vin says:

        Good point, Spec.

        And regardless of Tesla’s existence, others would still be making EVs, thanks to the mandates in the Republic of California and other states that follow their lead. Again, you can thank California for saving your planet (BTW, you’re welcome, alainl007). 🙂

        I’m actually guessing that Tesla is impeding BEV progress by other automakers by selling their ZEV credits to whomever is too lazy or timid or ??? to try to make these wonderful cars themselves.

  2. Ocean Railroader says:

    What I don’t get is how the Nissan Leaf is so much cheaper then this thing and how they started this thing out at the over bloated price of $40,000 If I had a choice between this thing and a Chevy Volt I would buy the volt in that you would have the plug in hybrid part of it which would make it two cars in one compared to this over priced monster.

    I really think this a case that Ford is being held at Gun Point by the clean air boards in California in that they are acting like a mad toddler in that they simply don’t want to make or sell EV’s. If they really wanted to make EV’s or if Tesla made them feel threatened I bet they could easily come out with a version of this thing that could do 150 miles on a charge and be $25,000.

  3. Bloggin says:

    That price for the Renault Fluence ZE only works if you don’t include the battery rental. For a 12k mile lease for 3 years, it’s 104 euros per month, or 3,744($4,977 US) euros for the 3 year lease.

    So the 17,495 euros goes to 21,239 euros for the Fluence ZE if you actually want a battery in the car. That you can’t buy and will need to rent FOREVER.

    Which means in three years after you have paid for the car, you will still need to pay Renault 1,248($1,659 US) to 1,488($1,972 US) euros annually to drive 12k miles per year + the cost of electricity. Yes, like renting furniture forever that only depreciates the longer you own it.

    The better built, much higher quality Focus Electric at 28,580 is 7,241 euros more than the Fluence ZE. But you actually own the battery pack after 3 years, so no monthly rental necessary.

    But most importantly, have you actually seen the Fluence ZE? Its no wonder even the French don’t want to drive it.

    And it’s a contradiction to state that the Leaf ‘starts’ at 16k euros, since at that price you don’t get a battery for the car to start. The battery rental starts at 113($150 US) euros monthly for 12k miles per year, or 1,356($1,802 US) Euros annually.

    The base stripped Leaf Visia, with a battery, starts at $20,990 after tax incentives. But the better equipped Leaf Tekna starts at 25,490 euros with a battery.

    The Leaf is 3,090 euros cheaper than the Focus Electric, but as the article pointed out, the Focus Electric is a more premium car.

    In Europe, just like the US, instead of spending million in TV and print marketing to push the Focus Electric, and like the Leaf, sell less than 50 units per US state on a monthly basis, it seems Ford has decided it’s better to spend the millions developing additional electrified vehicles that reach a wider customer base, while allowing those who want a premium EV, to find the Focus Electric.

  4. Josh says:

    To be region appropriate, I think the title should read “European Reviews Arrive: Ford Focus Electric Is A Winner, But It’s Too Bloody Expensive” 😉

  5. scott moore says:

    I checked out the focus before I bought a leaf. I thought it was a great car. However, it was apparent that Ford and its dealers don’t particularly like the car.

    1. io says:

      Same here 🙂
      Let me tell you though, not all Nissan dealers like the Leaf either (I made a point buying from one which did).

      Not that I’d have let a dealer dictate what car I wanted. For me, the deal-breakers for the Focus were that no double stroller could fit in its trunk, and the lack of quick-charging; in hindsight, this was a good decision.

      1. Foo says:

        See you in 8 years when your battery is kaput due to lack of proper temperature management.

        1. io says:

          LOL, did I hit a nerve or something?

          I laugh because battery life is so not a problem at all, and thermal management as implemented today is so not a answer in my case.
          Let me demonstrate:

          1) First, I have nowhere to plug in during the day, when temperature is likely to be an issue.
          Because of this, any thermal management will either not kick in (therefore not help one bit), or use battery power (reducing range).
          While I don’t have data on the Focus specifically, it’s exactly what the Volt seems to be doing:
          if left unplugged with ignition off even on a hot day, its TMS stays off and battery temp slowly rises.
          With ignition on, the battery is indeed kept cool… but loses 30% of its charge during the day.
          http://gm-volt.com/2013/05/03/volt-battery-thermal-management-system-in-the-hot-arizona-sun/

          Not off to a good start…

          2) In another 8 years, if I keep driving the way I do now, my car will have travelled over 150’000 miles.
          The most pessimistic estimated price for a new Leaf pack is 10k$. Obviously part of that is for the enclosure, BMS etc which are reusable, but let’s ignore that. Let’s also ignore the fact used cells have a residual value; say it’s zero.

          Assuming no technological breakthrough, battery prices decrease (or capacity increases) ~7% per year. So by 2021, with all the extremely pessimistic assumptions above, a new 24 kW*h pack will be at most 5k$.

          Let’s again imagine the worst, that zero progress has been made on longevity, and that therefore this new battery will also die after another 8 to 10 years.
          We’d be looking at one battery at 5k$ or less, to drive about 300’000 miles total. Wee…

          How much do you think non-EV drivers would spend during the same period — if cars even last that long?

          3) Say now that thermal management was to increase the battery life by 50% (this is obviously very climate-dependent, and probably overly optimistic where I live).
          I’d still need to replace the pack, a few years later, but now the cost of doing so would be higher because of the extra plumbing it contains. Also, other related components will eventually require maintenance too, e.g. the chiller’s compressor; at the very least coolant and refrigerant will need to be replenished or replaced.

          Given Ford’s track record… I’ll take my chances with Nissan’s simpler system, thanks.

      2. Unplugged says:

        In hindsight, I bet you grew out of the double stroller.

        A five-star safety record of the Focus versus the four-star for the Leaf is something no one will grow out of.

        The Focus lack of quick charging is balanced with the Leaf lack of battery cooling. And the spartan interior of the Leaf along with its rather odd looks, is not a plus for the Leaf.

        The U.S. lease on the Focus is quite a bit less than the lease on the top-of-the-line Leaf. So the price argument just doesn’t work. When all of this is calculated in to the Focus vs. Leaf balance, the Focus is the clear winner.

        1. io says:

          Congrats, you’ve got wrong just about, well, everything.
          I certainly didn’t mean this thread to evolve into Nissan against Ford, but I kinda need to answer your nonsense.

          Price: the base Focus was, and remains, more expensive than even the top trim (SL) Leaf, 40k vs 37k$ then; today it’s 36k$ vs 29 to 35k$.

          Safety: http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/5-Star+Safety+Ratings/2011-Newer+Vehicles/Vehicle-Detail?vehicleId=6171

          More importantly: versatility. I wanted (and got) a car I can really use, not something that would limit me.

          You claim that the Focus’ interior is nicer? Not sure, but that becomes a pointless question anyway if it can’t be driven because it’s low on charge or its oddly-shaped trunk can’t fit some basic stuff I need.

          Sure the stroller is a temporary thing, couple years maybe. We’re still using it, but it’s already less frequent.
          Now were you suggesting I should have overlooked that, gotten the Focus anyway, and… what during that time? Carry the kids on my shoulders? Rent another vehicle?

          And what next? My children are getting started with tricycles. Of course I don’t expect to haul those as often (only 3 times so far), but they too fit in the Leaf. High chairs do as well btw, which is cool when we visit people. Shall I go on?
          For me, practical things like this are way more important than “large-looking tires” etc.

          Same with quick-charging: it dramatically increases the usefulness of the car, by extending its range with minimal hassle whenever needed. It offers great peace of mind, and yes, it spared me some major inconvenience over a dozen times already.
          Actual examples:
          – Relative flying in, making my trip that day: home -> work -> airport -> home -> daycare -> home. Almost 90 miles.
          – After my 45-mile commute, a friend almost 20 miles away asks “wanna come over for dinner?” No problem.
          – Mid-day, my spouse doesn’t feel well and needs a ride. That wasn’t planned either…
          In those and other cases, a 5 to 20-minute stop was all it took to keep me going. Without QC I’d have needed to borrow another vehicle (possibly from a colleague — what a way to promote EVs) then transfer the infant seats, or just postpone that drive altogether.

          While I’m sure that the Focus makes sense for some people, hopefully I’ve made clear why it absolutely doesn’t in my case. As I now know, I get way more with the Leaf (and for less).

    2. Ted Fredrick says:

      They can’t make money on service. No brakes, air filter, tune ups Ect. The dealers make most of their money on sevice.

      1. Foo says:

        It’s a good thing we have franchise laws to protect those stealerships.. uh, I mean dealerships.

      2. Unplugged says:

        This is the exact argument that Elon Musk makes in explaining why a pure EV dealership is a requirement for actual EV sales. Every other mainstream manufacturer has a built-in conflict of interest when it comes to EVs. Why sell a car that can’t feed the dealership’s absolute need for service profit?