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USA: Ford Focus EV Team Takes Steps to Avoid Chevy Volt’s Pitfalls

Undoubtedly sobered by the plight of the Chevy Volt, which recently idled production for five weeks, furloughing 1300 workers in an effort to draw down excess inventory, the Ford Focus EV team has taken a number of innovative steps to avoid similar problems.

For starters, unlike other EV manufacturers, Ford will be building the Focus EV on the same production line as the gas-powered, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions. This provides much more flexibility to adjust to the rising and falling demands for each of the variously powered models.

That flexibility will be further leveraged by a build-to-order system that has prompted one writer, James Murray, at Business Green, to dub Ford, “the Dell Computer of Electric Vehicles.” The build-to-order process will share some similarities with Dell’s production process, which allows customers to select the options of their choice and receive their car in 4-6 weeks. The strategy will help “de-risk” the rollout. According to Mike Tinskey, Ford’s Vehicle Electrification chief, “There are simply too many variables impacting the market that we have no control over, so this gives us real flexibility. If the price of crude rises and demand for EVs climbs we can produce more EVs and fewer gas vehicles.”

Of course, it also helps that the Focus EV has the highest effective mileage rating of any car in America at 110 mpg city, and 99 mpg highway. This beats the Volt’s 93/95, as does the price, which is still a rather steep $39,995, but that beats the Volt by $1000. Both prices are before incentives including a $7500 Federal tax credit are applied. The Focus will have a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 84 mph.
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