[ad#post_ad]I test drove an early Ford Focus Electric prototype at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. At that time and for most of the time since, Ford has said it would bring the car into production in 2011, lagging slightly behind the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF. Ford also said it would begin producing a plug-in hybrid SUV in 2012, and low volumes of an electric Transit Connect utility van late this year.

Not a day goes by that one can't find a flurry of news and media about the Nissan LEAF. Ford not so much.

In fact the automaker recently confirmed that the Focus Electric launch would be delayed for all practical purposes until 2012.

"We had always said 2011, which we'll still do, but I think you'll see more of the concentrated volume in 2012," Sue Cischke, Ford VP of Environemnet told the Detroit News. "Right now, we're getting ready to provide a little bit slower entry."

She would not specify the exact number of cars that would hit the roads in 2011 except to say "some."

Cischke also said Ford intended to meet the same production volume as the Volt and LEAF in 2012. GM will build 15,000 Volts in 2011 and Nissan will build 20,000 LEAFs. "I think it's going to be somewhere between the two when we first start out," she said.

She did note that Ford could ramp up from there if demand called for it. "Certainly, if it was very popular, we'd be able to get more batteries and do what we need to do," she said.

The Ford Focus Electric is expected to get a nominal 100 miles of range, same as the LEAF, though she did admit ranges would be less and there will be problems in cold climates. "The Northern states are going to be more of a challenge — just because of the cold weather," she said.

Cischke weighed in on the recent "Voltgate" transmission details saying the Volt "is basically a plug-in hybrid."

She did admit Ford will take the slower lane to EV's in part to see how the first wave of Volts and LEAFs fare. "We'll learn from what they are doing and how they are marketing it," Cischke said.

Source ( Detroit News )