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Ford Electrifies its Eco-Car Strategy

The auto industry’s fascination with electric vehicles has gone from a low hum to a steady buzz over the past year. This fall, small numbers of mainstream electric vehicles have started to be delivered, led by Nissan’s battery-powered Leaf and GM’s plug-in electric hybrid Volt.

At the Detroit Automotive Show this week, Ford unveiled a batch of electric vehicles, proving GM and Nissan aren’t going to have the spotlight to themselves for very long. Longer term, news of Ford’s emerging partnership with Best Buy and Microsoft offers a preview of how the emerging ecosystem of EV services consumers are going to encounter.

First, the cars. At center stage of Ford’s debut is a battery-powered, four-door sedan, the Focus Electric (pictured above), due in 2011. Like the Leaf, the Focus Electric is predicted to be able to go around 100 miles per charge and is rumored to be priced around $30,000.

Ford also unveiled two other EVs due in 2012. The C-Max Energi, a five-passenger micro van that will be a plug-in hybrid that, like Chevy’s Volt, can be recharged over night. While driving, it can run on battery mode until the battery is depleted, and then switches on a motor to extend its range.

Ford claimed both the Focus Electric and C-Max Energi will deliver better fuel economy than the Chevy Volt. According to EPA testing, the Volt delivers overall mileage of 60 mpg, comprised of the equivalent of 93 mpg in electric mode, before dropping to 37 mpg when its engine comes on.

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