Ford Sells Only 38 Focus Electrics For July. Sign Overall EV Market Is Weak?

2 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 9

One Of The Few Focus Electric's Gets A Charge

After delivering 89 Focus Electric plug-in cars in the first full month on the market, Ford has announced that only 38 more fully electric EVs found their way into customer’s hands in July, a near 60 percent drop.

For the year, Ford has sold 135, far below expectations for the car.

We had a chance to drive the car for an extended week long, test drive before it was released, and we can say that the EV itself does not disappoint, leaving us to wonder if slow sales are a result of a hesitation of the market to accept pure electric cars, or Ford’s starting $40,000 price point (before federal credits).

Not A Lot Of Interest In the $39,995* Ford Focus Electric

To date, Ford has built 884 cars, so there is inventory to be had for those looking to get behind the wheel of the 76 mile (EPA) electric car.

To illustrate how this may not be a supply issue, Ford themselves has seemingly slowed production on the Focus Electric.  For the month of July, Ford only assembled 121 cars, not the actions of a large auto maker expecting big things from its new offering.

This EV malaise however is not limited to Ford.  In July, all the pure EV manufacturers put up terrible numbers:

  • Nissan LEAF – 395
  • Ford Focus – 38
  • Mitsubishi i MiEV – 33
  • Tesla Model S – 19 (article here)
  • Honda Fit EV – 7

For some of these manufacturers special circumstances come into play, or at least that is what they are telling us.  Tesla has 12,200 back orders for their Model S and only production delays have slowed deliveries, while Nissan continues to state that electric LEAFs will not be sold en masse until their US based Smyrna plant in Tennessee is producing, but that reality remains to be seen.

Conversely, those cars with a plug and a extended range petrol engine are fairing much better (relatively speaking) in the early going:

  • Chevrolet Volt - 1,849
  • Toyota Prius Plug-In – 688

It is interesting to note, that this group will shortly double in size by two offerings by Ford themselves; the C-Max Energi in September and the Fusion Energi thereafter.

Ford will not put a number on how many Focus Electrics they will sell or build, but only offers to build as many as there is demand for (don’t all manufacturers follow this rule to some degree?).  Because of this stance, and the cars limited/slow rollout to date, many have classed this as strictly a CARB ‘compliance car,’ with Ford not really having a vested interest in making the car a success.

Even Ford themselves have stated that they really don’t believe the time for the electric car has come.  Given the early returns to date, it is hard to argue with them.

Still, while overall adoption of the electric car has indeed been slow, as consumers wait on advancements in battery technology to give them not only more than 100 real world miles of range, but less sticker shock, the movement has to begin somewhere.

9 responses to "Ford Sells Only 38 Focus Electrics For July. Sign Overall EV Market Is Weak?"

  1. Jason says:

    I think Ford only has to sell about 1,500 all electrics to satisfy emission regs by 2014. Looking at it like that they are ahead of the game.

  2. Koz says:

    “The time for econo cars with a luxury electric ride for twice the price ($40k) and beginning of life 76 mile EPA range has not come.”

    There, fixed that comment for Ford.

  3. James says:

    These articles re: monthly sales totals of EVs are ridiculous. Why bother? It’s as if EV websites and domestic news outlets have nothing better to publish or do with their time.

    This website should stick with solid reporting, not picking with a fine-toothed comb over every single sales number as they come off the ticker.

    Who doesn’t know that the Focus EV is an extremely limited distribution piece built to conform to C.A.F.E. regulations? Who doesn’t know that these first EVs are being drudgingly produced by manufacturers who feel forced to make them and lose money on every single unit? This is not news. Anyone who felt a Focus EV at $40,000 would fly off shelves in 14 initial markets would be a loon. So why report on their sales numbers as if it were some kind of Fusion vs. Camry vs. Accord shootout?!!! It’s just dumb. STOP IT.

    As an EV website, some authors here report on Tesla stock reports or daily Honda FitEV sales as if there is some kind of death knell on EVs. There is definately an aire of negative reporting.

    Let Tesla sort out their early production riffs and give the baby EV industry time to breathe. Don’t micro-report every up and down as if lithium batteries still didn’t cost as much as a vacation cabin, and the general public was just going to overrun dealerships in throngs looking for those cars they can plug in.

    Obviously the car industry is not running to fill some huge need the public is screaming for. The public at large buys according to the cost of a gallon of gas. This being an election summer, normally soaring oil prices have been artificially contained, and no hoarde of EV and hybrid buyers is gonna just pay a premium for a long-term saver car when gas is at or below $3.00 per gallon.

    Chevy Volt sales have really surprised many, with palpable gas prices and loads of negative press – the Volt seems bouyed by California HOV lane buyers and GM finally….FINALLY…found a recipe for success in the current owner-testimonial advertising. Volts will continue to sell at near current rate because it is just plain a car that does what none other does for a price that some can afford, if not all.

    Tesla is really walking a tightrope. All my thoughts and prayers are for their success, because, to me —- THE ENTIRE EV CAR INDUSTRY’S future falls in the balance. Tesla is so high profile, and it’s vehicles so revolutionary – they seriously can shape the mindset of young and old for years to come re: EVs – viable or too expensive and limited. Let’s all hope Tesla shines and it’s cars recieve glowing reports in every road test and comparison by major auto journals.

    Right now, people – everything is up in the air….So many like today’s author want to call it in the air, and plant seeds in people’s minds of the Electric Car’s failure to catch on. We’re going to see many ups and downs ( I predicted Leaf’s current problems two years ago ) but it’s nonsense to report sales numbers of compliance machines and act as if it’s some kind of news.

  4. Mark H says:

    In the end, pure electric (BEVs) will prevail. But for now, this article exposes the fact that the first wave belongs to the extended range or “long range” gas assist aka Chevy Volt, and 2013 Ford Fusion Energi. That is not to say that there is not a place for the pure EV right now. It is just smaller than predicted. If one doubts the future of the EV, just count the number of Toyota Prius as you travel. That was the first step. Dual propulsion or long range is next. I am pleased that GM got this round correct. I agree a little with James about panic, but I don’t have a problem with the posting of the numbers. Numbers are not to be feared, only to be analysed. I don’t think Nissan will hit the 20,000 either but I think they have made a great car and are far from folding the tent. I little dose of reality though will help the true numbers to follow. I am a little disapponited in our EV community as a whole with our inability to focus on the “life” cost of the EV. The EV is comparable to price of the ICE over time due to fuel savings. Continuing to say that they are too expensive (Tesla and Fisker excluded) is a little unjust.

  5. Stuart22 says:

    What the paltry FFE sales numbers indicate is that not that the ‘overall’ EV market is weak, just that they don’t feel pure BEVs have much of a shot for success, while EREVs do – as evidenced by their heavier emphasis on the Energi which Ford has decided should hit the market sooner than planned.

    And with regard to articles on EV sales numbers, absolutely keep them coming. Why stick one’s head in the sand like an ostrich on history as it is happening? If buyers keep staying away from pure BEVs while embracing extended range EVs, there’s reasons for such a trend to be happening which some of us have long predicted would happen. Lessons can never be learned through ignorance – and with the Volt, it looks like GM has learned the lessons from their EV1 experience quite well.

  6. James says:

    @ Mark H:

    The problem being that, like solar panels or geo-thermal for the home – people in this credit-happy society don’t plan ahead much. Sustainable energy is all about self-reliance and shrewd economics for those who know they’ll stay living in the same place long enough for the energy savings to catch up and pass the initial costs of installation. Resale of homes with solar or passive energy built in is not in high gear. People doubt, or misunderstand the pure genius of a home that is off grid or energy nuetral. We live in an era where people calculate payments and compare everything to the old status quo way of doing things. Tell folks that $60,000 of solar panels can save them boatloads of money in say, nine years after they pay themselves off…and you get blank stares – This type of living doesn’t compute for most.

    Enter EVs. People focus on MSRP and usually don’t sit down and compare Kiplinger data sheets and industry long-term costs of ownership. It’s only the cost of a gallon of gas that turns the masses into savvy shoppers and energy sippers. Sure, when a new EV comes out, it will have it’s rather small share of early adoptive, environmentally-aware fans. This is a very small slice of the mass market.

    @Stuart22:

    It’s all about buy-in cost and battery size. Nobody but Tesla claims a car that can reach 200 miles in a charge. Anything less is practically useless in my book. Nearly every manufacturer putting out some type of EV is settling for the 60-100 mile range. This just makes these vehicles look useless for a single or even a two car family. Add the cost of the battery, and the uncertainty of battery life and resale value and it’s a no-brainer these cars won’t fly.

    PHEVs will do better, sure – but they still will suffer at MSRP – to – battery size. I’ve watched BEV motorcycles and scooters for over 5 years hoping the lithium versions would go down in price like plasma TVs when companies began selling them. The prices haven’t changed. It’ll take a very lot of lithium hybrid, PHEV and EV sales to start the price trend downward. It may or may not happen. As I’ve said, it’s up in the air. The one and only BEV strategy that seems to have hope is Tesla’s approach. Make sexy, fast and brilliant cars nearly beyond reproach from “car experts”, make them alluring and a bit pricey, and watch them become aspirational, and legendary. This is the free advertising all car companies drool over. If Tesla can hang in there long enough to make a Model “A” ( for affordable ) with a 250 mile range, we might just see BEVs make it over the hump. But it’s still a very large “if”.

    A PIPrius, Voltec or Ford ( sedan or crossover ) that’ll come in around $28,000 and give it’s owner a true 100mpg would definately chip out a niche. The big entities ( O.P.E.C., Big Oil and government subsidy and reserves dole ) cannot sustain long periods of low per-barrel crude oil costs. Eventually, political unrest, war and/or plain greed will see oil prices rise. Us peak oil believers and early EV adopters are beacons for our neighbors, friends and relatives. But it’s going to be a long fight – a very long road towards electrification. What is a novelty today will become mainstream if A) more efficient batteries become available B) Obviously if the price of batteries can come down.

    When you say , “keep those EV sales stats coming”….You do have to realize most BEVs on the market today are purely compliance machines. You have to realize this isn’t obtaining data on car sales as you now know. It’s trying to tabulate stats on very limited production vehicles sold in certain regions to satisfy government mandates. Totally different world, guys.

    Watching Motor Trend write articles on FitEV, Fiat 500EV or FocusEV sales is a joke. They all know the cars are on lease programs or slated for a very very limited production run.

    1. Mark H says:

      James, You have a reall passion for this arugument. I aggree with your assessment of solar and mass belief that a system has to stay with the existing home. Home Depot and Lowes are making a large living off of the DIY group. The DIY group, though small, will in fact take their system with them when they move which will help this sector grow at a slow pace but grow all the same.

      You are also correct in your assessment of the stigma over MSRP. I consider this to be the greatest hurdle to help those who choose not to look past a monthly payment, that the EV is a viable option today. I like the progress in the DOE alternative vehicle calculator. I like their use of NPV (net present value) calculations. Their assumption page is thorough while leaving their calculator simple. 2012 EV sales will double 2011. 2013 sales will double 2012. 2014 will bring in a different class buyer. We will see then if some standard method of evaluation is nationaly recognizeable. If national gas is over $4, it will have an impact as well. Although the growth of this industry is unknown and accepting that every new player at the table will not survive, I think we recognize the technology to be sound and it will arrive when it arrives….

  7. John says:

    I think there are a few things worth mentioning here. I’m not going to debate the appeal or lack of appeal of buying the Focus Electric. There are a ton of opinions there.

    I want to make sure that the sales of Focus Electric have the appropriate asterisk by them. I think it’s important to remember:
    1. The vehicle is only currently on sale in 3 markets: Southern California, Bay Area, and NY metro area. If you want one somewhere else, you can pre-order a 2013 with no guaranteed release date.
    2. Many (most?) dealerships are charging either MSRP or well over MSRP. There is at least one Bay Area dealership charging 50% (!!!) over MSRP for their cars. I know this is a turnoff for many buyers.
    3. Quantities are limited. I have no idea where those hundreds of Focuses are, but they aren’t necessarily on lots. When I went hunting for them, you would find that most dealerships have a couple, if any. And most of the the cars you see as available online on dealers’ sites or sites like Autotrader/Cars.com aren’t actually on lots yet…they’re just future inventory.
    4. The very first deliveries of this car took place in June.
    5. They’re doing web-only advertising, for now. You won’t see ads for this car on TV or in-print.

    We need to remember that this is the very beginning of the car’s rollout. As a resident of a non-launch state, I decided to buy one. After waiting with a pre-order in one of the “next phase” metropolitan markets for an unknown release date, I caved and decided to buy one from California. It was not that hard, but it was expensive and required a lot more effort than a typical out-of-state car purchase. And that was after I found a dealership that actually had my color/interior preference in stock–and I was “lucky” to pay MSRP (in their words).

    Ford has been pretty clear that they make this car on the Focus line, supplying demand as necessary while advertising the car online to the most enthusiastic buyers. They’ve done this with a bunch of their other cars in the past, including hybrids. As someone who bought
    Ford’s first hybrid car (’05 Escape Hybrid)–it’s easy to see that this is an exact repeat of that car’s launch process (MSRP pricing, limited dealership rollout, high vehicle price vs the gas model, flexible manufacturing, etc).

  8. NevadaJim says:

    John is right. I purchased From California for the same reasons. I have had solar panels for two years and have built up credits with NV Energy so that I can run the FFE for more than two years without paying a dime. I like the FFE design and wanted leather. So I cancelled my Tesla reservation and bought exactly what I wanted on 6/15/12. I could not be happier. I think that for the the EV community to grow, I have to be a good example.