focus-electric-fronteditors-blog-entry3Well, I did what I said I would do and what I suggested some of you do: I got on the phone to some area Ford dealerships to see if I could get any information about the arrival of the Ford Focus Electric on Colorado’s Front Range.

I’ve become increasingly proactive in checking out other EV leads as Nissan continues to ignore folks like us who reserved a LEAF in April 2010 but who live in Tier 3 markets such as Colorado.

[Although, surprisingly the Nissan EV Facebook page did respond directly to someone who re-posted my entry about Nissan not caring about Tier 3 folks. Of course, Nissan didn’t give us any new, hard information.]

Lucky for us, Denver is one of 20 rollout markets for the Ford Focus Electric, which Ford has said will start arriving on dealer lots in late 2011.

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In fact, Denver’s one of five U.S. markets which might see Focus Electrics before any LEAFs arrive. The others: Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York, all of which are officially Tier 3 markets for Nissan.

I didn’t find out that much from the four Denver area Ford dealers I called. But I did learn a few interesting things, and, just as importantly, I made some of the area Ford dealerships aware that there are people in the area eager – very eager! – to buy a production EV as soon as they can.

Here’s what I learned in talking to four Denver area Ford dealers about the Focus Electric, along with a couple of tips for them – and you:

Ford will announce its Focus Electric rollout plans in August 2011. One Denver area dealer told me that Ford will make public its plan for rolling out the Focus Electric in launch markets next month. That sounds great – if he’s right. Let’s hope Ford does things right, like Mitsubishi has with the iMiEV, and announces very definitive reservations dates and arrival dates for specific markets rather than pulling a Nissan on us.

Ford Focus Electric rollout markets
focuselectric_02Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Phoenix,Tucson, Portland, Ore., Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Virginia, Seattle, Washington, D.C.

Tier 1 Focus Electric/Tier 3 Nissan LEAF markets: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New York.

Only select Ford dealers in rollout markets will offer the Focus Electric. Only some Denver area Ford dealers will be offering the Ford Focus Electric, whenever it becomes available in this area. That’s because dealers need to go through a certification process with Ford to prove they’re committed to and prepared to servicing and selling plug-in vehicles.

Don’t expect a Focus Electric in Denver until Spring 2012. One Denver area dealership told me we won’t see Focus Electrics in Denver until after they start rolling out in places like Chicago and New York – remember, Ford has said it will pushing out Focus Electrics in launch markets in late 2011. Why would some of the 20 launch markets launch later than others? According to this dealer, Denver is a smaller market and not as EV ready as some of the bigger Focus Electric rollout markets. In fact, I’m not sure Colorado’s Front Range is any less EV ready than some of the other, bigger Focus Electric rollout markets, but this is what this particular dealer told me. Then again, as far as I could tell he was simply speculating, so he could be way off on this.

No dealer waiting lists for Focus Electric — yet. No one I talked to had a running list of potential customers interested in buying a Focus Electric, although, perhaps one or two dealerships now have an informal list, thanks to my call.

If you call, ask to talk to the fleet manager, not a salesperson. When you call your area Ford dealers to ask about the Focus Electric don’t talk to some random dude in the sales department, ask to speak with the fleet manager. I got better, though also not-at-all definitive, information from the fleet managers than from sales people. And, in contrast to the two sales people I spoke with, the fleet managers I talked to didn’t patronize me and try to get me into the showroom to look at gasoline cars. In fact, I had to tell one sales person at one Denver area Ford dealer that I flat out have no interest in buying a pure gasoline car – ever again. Actually, this was kind of a fun moment as I could virtually see his shock over the phone. Get used to hearing this buddy — they’re a lot of us out here who really, really want to say goodbye to oil!

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Note to Ford Dealers: Treat prospective EV customers right. The two dealerships that treated me best and seemed most eager to get my business and to play the electric car game, where Phil Long Ford in Littleton, Colo. and Lakewood Fordland in Lakewood, Colo. In fact, the fleet manager at Lakewood Fordland gave me a quick follow-up call about 20 minutes after I’d first spoken to him. Also, neither one of these dealerships patronized me, though I will offer a quick tip to Phil Long Ford: While I am indeed a greenie, not everyone interested in the Focus Electric will be. They’ll be plenty of techies and Get off Foreign Oil types who may or may not appreciate being pegged as an enviro.

Start calling your area Ford dealers – today! Finally, if you do live in one of the 20 U.S. rollout markets for the Focus Electric you should start calling Ford dealers in your area. Why? Because your interest may spark their interest which might mean more Ford dealers in your area offering the Focus Electric and, ideally, a better price for you. Plus, if you live in what is a Tier 1 Focus Electric rollout market and a Tier 3 Nissan LEAF market, and you’re eager to get an EV, the Focus Electric might be the first ticket to you going fully electric, or, if you’ve got home solar like us, going solar electric! Now, if that’s not enough motivation to get on the horn to local Ford dealerships and start asking about the Focus Electric, I don’t know what is.

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