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Ford Focus Electric Not Faring Well in US Auto Market

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(Image: Stock.xchng)
(Image: Stock.xchng)


  • Focus Electric launched in New York, New Jersey and California; to debut in 19 metropolitan areas before being sold nationwide
  • Ford survey shows customers uneducated on difference between fuel-efficient cars
  • Electric, plug-in hybrid vehicles expected to be only 1% of US vehicle sales through to 2017

US automaker Ford has rolled out its Focus Electric without much fanfare, and it may be paying the price as in the first quarter of 2012 only two dozen vehicles were sold.

So far, the Focus Electric has been launched in New York, New Jersey and California. It will next debut in 19 metropolitan areas before being sold nationwide.

The car is aimed specifically at consumers who buy electric vehicles, and not the general public. According to Ford’s advertising agency, Team Detroit, its target customers are aware of the vehicle. "We're focused on the people who buy them," Jim Farley, Ford Head of Global Marketing, told the Detroit Free Press.

A survey conducted by Ford shows the majority of Americans are unaware of the difference between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicle. It also highlighted that 61% of survey participants were interested in buying a hybrid or electric vehicle, but wouldn’t consider doing so until gas reaches $5 a gallon.

GM’s Chevrolet Volt Gets Long Marketing Push

When General Motors launched the Chevrolet Volt, it was marketed heavily for four years before making its debut. In 2011, slightly less than 10,000 Volts were sold, with the same ringing true for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

Consulting firm LMC Automotive predicts that through to 2017, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will comprise only 1% of US vehicle sales.

Focus Electric At NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Ford would like to associate the Focus Electric with fuel efficiency in the minds of a new generation of consumers. The company plans to use social media to market the 2012 Focus Electric to younger car buyers.

In other attempts to promote the car, the Focus Electric will also appear as the first-ever, all-electric pace car for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the Richmond 400, which is to take place later this year as part of the company’s marketing campaign.

According to a Ford survey, 35% of new-car buyers are motorsport fans. Of those, some 78% are NASCAR fans who are likely to buy Ford vehicles than other brands.

Key Statistics - Global Electric Vehicle Industry

  • By 2017, it is predicted by industry analysts that the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market in the United States will total close to 360,000 vehicles annually (source: Pike Research).
  • Half of the electric vehicle business worldwide is made up of car sales. East Asia accounts for around 56% of the sales value of electric vehicles, and the region is expected to maintain this level leadership going forward (source: IDTechEx).
  • According to industry analysts, there must be a significant reduction in battery costs by 2017 for the industry to grow to its projected value of nearly $15 billion and 28 million kWh (source: Pike Research).

By Melina Druga for
Melina Druga is an author and freelance journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @MelinaDruga .

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