Ford downplays need for 200-mile EV

The company is confident current buyers will be attracted to the 2017 Focus Electric with 100 miles of range.

Ford has downplayed the need to immediately develop an electric vehicle with at least 200 miles of range.

The current Focus Electric offers 76 miles on a full charge, on par with the entry-level Nissan Leaf. Ford's EV is due for an upgrade to 100 miles for the 2017 model year, rivaling Nissan's higher-spec 2016 Leaf SV and SL.

"I think right now with the launch of the Focus Electric at 100 miles, it is going to satisfy a big chunk of the population," Ford's electrification director, Kevin Layden, said at a recent EV panel discussion, as quoted by Automotive News. "It's going to be really affordable and a step up from where we are now."

Nissan charges a $5,000 premium for the Leaf's bigger 30-kWh battery, putting the car closer to the $35,000 price bracket. The 76-mile Focus Electric's price tag is a closer match to the cheaper Leaf, selling for just over $29,000 (excluding freight).

General Motors is jumping directly from the hybrid Chevrolet Volt -- with 53 miles of electric range and a $33,220 MSRP (excluding freight) -- to the 200-mile Bolt EV that will sell for $37,500. Tesla's Model 3 promises a similar range and a slightly cheaper $35,000 entry point.

Some have argued that 200 miles is a bare minimum for overcoming the range concerns of most potential buyers. Range is only part of the proposition, however, and many buyers will cite price as the most important factor in making a purchasing decision.

Ford may simply be remaining quiet about its future product plans, which may include a long-range EV. The company's Model E is expected to be offered as a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure EV. It will arrive on the market in 2018 or 2019, not long after Tesla expects to begin delivering the first Model 3 sedans.

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