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Consumer electronics Show:

Ford unveils electric car at CES set for launch this year


AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Alan Mulally demonstrates plugging in the Ford Focus Electric to a charging station at the International Consumer Electronics Show Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 in Las Vegas.

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Ford Motor Company unveiled its first-ever zero emissions, electric passenger vehicle during Friday’s keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally presented Ford’s electric Focus, which he claims charges faster and gets better mileage than its competitors.

"We know that many customers are excited to drive an electric vehicle and never visit a fuel station again," Mulally said.

Ford executives said customers aren’t just committing to a car when they buy the electric Focus — they are committing to a lifestyle change. But Mulally admitted the battery on the Focus won’t last as long as a full tank of gas and drivers would have to think cautiously about where their next closest charge station is.

The Focus 23 kWh lithium-ion battery will take about three hours to charge on a 240-volt outlet (20 hours on a standard 120-volt) and will have about 80 miles of drive time, depending on how the car is being driven.

The Focus will launch later this year (the price wasn't discussed) and Mulally said it will be one of five fully electric cars the company will offer in North America and Europe by 2013.

One of the issues Ford might face in entering the electric car market is a lack of public charging stations for its drivers. Ford executives said there are only about 1,800 charging stations in the U.S. and most are in California. But the company said electric car drivers will find more than 12,000 charge stations across the country by the end of 2012.

For electric car drivers wanting a charge station in their home, getting one might be just as easy as getting a TV installed. Ford announced Friday that it has partnered with Best Buy and the Geek Squad as the exclusive seller, installer and tech support provider for their 240-watt charging stations.

The electric Focus comes with all of Ford’s in-vehicle technologies that the company has launched in recent years, along with features specifically for electric car drivers.

Those features include Ford’s interactive “MyFord Touch” system customized for electric drivers to help monitor battery life and coach drivers on how to conserve it.

Ford and Microsoft have partnered to bring electric drivers a smart phone app called “MyFord Mobile,” which helps owners plug in remotely, advise drivers when utility rates are at their lowest and search MapQuest for charging stations.

Other features the new Focus will include are Ford’s voice-activated communications and entertainment system and MyKey, which encourages teens to drive more safely and improve efficiency.

Mulally said Ford will be showing off other electric vehicles at the International Auto Show, but for the electric Focus and all of its preloaded features, he said CES seemed like the perfect fit to showcase the car.

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