Ford’s first mass-produced, mainstream electric car, the Ford Focus Electric hatchback, is a rather fun car to drive. It has plenty of torque, can recharge from empty to full in around four hours, and looks just like its gasoline siblings. Yet because it is a compliance car: an all-electric vehicle made specifically to satisfy various zero emission mandates in various U.S. states — and because Ford is focusing on plug-in hybrids instead of pure EVs — sales of the Focus Electric are disappointingly low.
But according to GreenCarReports, the big blue oval is planning another plug-in variant of the popular Focus hatchback: a plug-in hybrid which would not only be cheaper than the $35,170 Focus Electric, but probably be sold in higher volumes too.
The rumor — first mentioned by Autocar — was that Ford was in the process of developing a plug-in hybrid variant — known as the Ford Focus Energi — for its 2015 model year line up. Similar to the existing Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, the Focus Energi would feature a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine married to an electric motor and 7.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
While specifications have yet to be released, GreenCarReports says that sources close to Ford claim the Focus Energi would have an all-electric range of up to 25 miles, slightly better than the 21 miles of all-electric range offered by the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi models. That’s likely down to the Focus’ smaller form factor over the two existing plug-in hybrid models, not changes in drivetrain or power system.
With that small improvement in mind, we’d expect a combined fuel economy of around 46 mpg — although we’re basing this on our own back-of-the-napkin math, not any first-hand information.
As for price? Currently, sources close to Ford claim a sticker price of around $27,500 for fleet operators, which means nearer to $30,000 for private buyers. That would place the rumored plug-in Focus Energi nicely between a top-line gasoline Focus Titanium hatch ($23,575) and the all-electric Focus ($35,170.)
At the current time, Ford remains officially tight-lipped on the issue, but from what we know of Ford, the idea of a plug-in hybrid Focus seems to fit its overall production goal: to offer each vehicle it produces with a variety of engine choices ranging from traditional gasoline and diesel through to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric.
There’s just one question on our mind we need answering: of all the Ford plug-ins we’ve seen to date, cargo area has been drastically reduced from the gasoline variant in order to fit in the require lithium-ion battery pack. The Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi all have smaller load bays to their dino-burning siblings.
We think that’s a major flaw, and causes Ford to lose out to better-designed plug-ins like the the all-electric LEAF and plug-in Prius hybrid. If a plug-in Focus Energi is in the works, we only hope Ford has found somewhere better to put the battery pack than in the trunk.
Would you buy a plug-in Focus Energi PHEV? Or would you prefer an all-electric version? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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