|Consumers rate the gas-powered Ford Focus|
Everybody knows all-electric cars are expensive but few realize how much the battery contributes to that cost. Would you believe $12,000 to $15,000?
That's the figure Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally quoted earlier this week at a technology conference sponsored by Forbes.
"When you move into an all-electric vehicle, the battery size moves up to around 23 kilowatt hours, [and] it weighs around 600 to 700 pounds," Mulally said at Fortune magazine's Brainstorm Green conference in California, the Wall Street Journal reported.
When you consider that the types of cars that get equipped with batteries tend to be subcompacts that would sell for $22,000 or so with an ordinary gasoline engine, it's obvious the battery becomes an economic hurdle.
Ford has been promoting its Focus Electric lately and it will be the pace car at the Richmond 400 NASCAR event April 28. The Focus EV is priced at $39,200, compared to a gas-powered Focus, which starts at $16,500, according to CarPrice.com. The gas-powered Focus, by the way, gets an overall satisfaction rating of just two stars in 770 reviews submitted by ConsumerAffairs.
The Focus Electric is being built on the same assembly line as the gas-powered Focus, Ford has noted. That means that even if Ford doesn't sell many of the all-electric models, it won't take a financial beating. But Nissan and other companies that are building models that are exclusively electric face much higher cost barriers, since sales of the electric models must bear the entire manufacturing cost.
The U.S. Department of Energy, hoping to jump-start electric-car sales, has been funding research to lower the cost of batteries and maybe even improve their range, since range anxiety -- or propulsion envy, as it's known in some quarters -- keeps many potential buyers on the sidelines.
One thing many consumers don't realize about electric cars is that they're fast. Electric motors get up to speed instantly, unlike gas engines which must overcome the inertia of their pistons and other components to produce the torque that makes the wheels go round.
That's perhaps the message behind the Focus Electric's appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Richmond 400 later this month.