The real EV competition is coming for Nissan


editors-blog-entry3En garde Nissan: Ford is beginning to fire away at the LEAF, directly attacking it in some of its most recent press releases, including a brand new release about Ford’s plans to team with Best Buy on EV home charging stations.

In that release, Ford plays up the fact that the Focus Electric 2012, which Ford says will be available in select U.S. markets by the end of this year, has a 6.6 kW onboard charging, as opposed to the 2011 LEAF’s 3.3 kW onboard charger. This means charge times for the 2012 Focus Electric via a 240-volt charging unit will be about three to four hours as opposed to six to eight hours for the 2011 LEAF.

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That’s a significant advantage, and, if Ford can deliver the Focus Electric at a price similar to, or less than, the LEAF, a lot of folks — including yours truly — may be bolting the LEAF not for the Volt, which, in our view, never really was, and never really will be, the true competition for the LEAF, but for the Focus Electric.

That’s assuming, of course, that Ford gets the Focus Electric to those of us in what some have referred to as “the forgotten 36 states” in U.S., meaning those states not part of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 LEAF roll-out at about the same time as Nissan can get us the LEAF.

The Focus Electric also has a liquid thermal management system for its battery pack, something the LEAF does not have, and — you guessed it — Ford has been playing up this fact as well.

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Of course, the Nissan’s got a leg up on delivery of pure electric cars, having already delivered a small number of LEAFs in a half dozen U.S. states, and it’s sure to get hundreds, if not thousands, of LEAFs into the hands of buyers well before the first Focus Electric arrives in an American consumer’s driveway. Nissan has also said it plans to equip 2012 LEAFs with a 6.6 kW onboard charger.

Finally, there’s the fact that while Ford is starting to really ramp up its competitive language on the LEAF, we still don’t know how much the Focus Electric will cost. That announcement, more than any other, could play the biggest role in what is shaping up to be an interesting and, we hope, helpful — as in helpful to the EV consumer — electric car race between two automaking giants.


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