For the last four years, Ford has produced limited-numbers of its Focus Electric hatchback. Based on the same chassis as the rest of the Ford Focus family, the electric variant of this popular five-seat hatchback offers a 107 kilowatt-electric motor, 23 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, and an EPA-approved range of 76 miles per charge.
But thanks to a limited-market rollout and virtually no marketing spend, the Focus Electric has been all but ignored by Ford’s advertising team in favor of Ford’s EcoBoost range of gasoline engines and its C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Save for a few key market areas like California, Washington State, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington DC, New Hampshire and Vermont, the Ford Focus Electric is a rare beast. Even in markets where Ford works hard to promote the Focus Electric, its sales figures are tiny compared to cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt, with just a few thousand examples sold since it launched.
That however could change with the news that four years after the model launched, Ford has actually spent some of its vast advertising budget on a TV commercial devoted exclusively to its electric car.
Better late than never, the ad steers clear of the usual electric car ad clichés about saving the planet, being a big gadget on wheels, or saving money at the gas pump.
Instead, it delivers a simple message that other automakers often fail to explain in their electric car ads: electric cars are fun and exciting to drive.
What’s more, the ad manages to send that message with just sixteen seconds of air time, presumably to get viewers reaching for the nearest Internet-enabled device to search for more information.
And there’s not a Polar Bear in sight.
The ad starts with a slow pull-out shot on a desert scene. The sun, just in front of the camera, casts a shadow on a large monolithic pillar. From the distance, we heard the sound of screeching tires as the camera continues to pull out. Just as we see the electric car charging station sign on the top of the pillar, a bright red Ford Focus Electric comes into shot, executing the perfect emergency-brake parallel park to line itself up next to the charging station.
The shot then switches to a series of close-ups where we see the drive get out, plug-in and walk away.
“Charged up, by design,” a female voiceover adds over the top of a fast-beat hip hop track. The only words spoken in the ad, it emphasizes the fact that electric cars are fun and sporty, thanks to their instant torque and constant power delivery. Despite admitting in a disclaimer on the bottom of the screen that the car featured had its traction control switched off, was driven by a professional stunt driver on a closed course, and that the tinted windows used in the ad weren’t standard, the ad manages to tap into the same excitement that would have previously been reserved for some of Ford’s high-power, low-economy vehicles like the Ford Focus ST or Mustang families.
We’re not sure why Ford has decided to advertise its Focus Electric after such a long time barely acknowledging the vehicle’s existence, but we can admit to wishing more electric car ads were like this short, 16-second sting. We’re sure too that the ad will be bound to excite buyers who have never before thought of driving an electric car — but with the Focus Electric now based on four year old technology and rival automakers like Nissan pushing the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable for an entry level car, Ford’s ad campaign may be too little, too late.
If however Ford can increase the range of its Focus Electric’s battery pack, add DC quick charging and match the prices currently being offered by rivals like VW and Nissan, it could just have a chance of leaping up onto the electric bandwagon at last.
We’ll be keen to see if it does.
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