Elon Musk is right, or a review of my bad Ford Focus Electric test drive experience(s).
I’ve test driven the Ford Focus Electric vehicle three times, while visiting FOUR Ford dealers in the span of six months. The car is ok, not really what I would have bought, but if the price is right, who knows.
My first experience was at the dealership at Cerritos Ford. Which is where most of these pictures were taken. I did this test in August of 2012 and the salesman was honest enough to mention that he knew NOTHING of electric cars, but was glad to show me the car anyway.
We took it out for a ride, and the dealership had quite a selection of colors, about four of them in stock with several others of the same trim available. I had hoped that since it looked like a small station wagon, that there would be space in the vehicle, alas, it did not.
The rear storage area closed –
The rear storage area open –
This experience was neutral at best, but it really was because I ended up training the sales rep on some of the virtues of ANY EV, not specific to his model.
Several months later, I found myself around Santa Monica waiting for the better half as she was involved in a business dinner. I took the opportunity to drive Santa Monica Blvd to see if there were any EVs to test, and ended up at the Ford dealership there. This was in December and “deals” were to be had. Once again, the sales representative who approached me was barely trained. This time, the gentleman who initially assisted me just started working in car sales that week. This trip was memorable because the “more experienced” sales person who came up to assist the newbie who initially was with me made it sound as if Ford had dropped the price to $15,000 out the door AFTER all incentives were applied. Needless to say, color me intrigued. Alas, the “more experienced guy” was DOUBLE DIPPING on some of the incentives, and I walked away from the dealership.
Some nice shots of the screens for the Focus Electric –
Another few months later, and I was driving down the 405 and noticed a Giant Worthington Ford advertisement for the Focus Electric. I figured, why not see if the prices have dropped. I got to the dealership and there was ONE Focus Electric on the showroom floor. No one knew how to sell the vehicle and they were not doing any test drives. This was in January or February, not really a HOT sales time of the year, and no one was able to try to sell a vehicle that they were advertising on a BIG sign on the side of the freeway.
My last experience was with the Focus Electric sales was last month. I found myself on the 405, as I often do, and decided to check out South Bay Ford. I had a little bit of time to kill before I had to pick up the better half, so I figured to see the C-Max Plug In or the Ford Fusion Plug In (along with the Focus Electric) and get a small charge on the Active E while I played with the new Ford EVs.
Here’s a quick video I shot, turn up the video because the Leviton charger was making some really weird sounds as I charged on it (I interrupted it and just left it unplugged, it just sounded awful.)
Regardless, the sales person was more adept at the products and the differences between them. However, he really didn’t speak so well of the Focus Electric. He seemed to be more comfortable with either of the plug in hybrids.
I have never owned a Ford. Probably never will, but it’s hard to try to convince someone when a majority of the sales staff don’t know the product. As has been documented in Tesla’s challenge with direct sales in Texas and other states, they purport that the existing dealer model is ill equipped to take on the paradigm shift that EVs make vs their established ICE products. This point was further illustrated to me as I found out SOME features of the Focus Electric that WOULD be of interest to me was recently posted by Michael and Pamela Thwaite on their blog. Their coverage of the ONLINE capabilities of the Focus Electric would’ve scored points with me, had I been properly marketed to by the various Ford sales people that I have been with over the course of the last six months.
Let’s hope that BMW’s establishment of a sub-brand, BMW i, to focus its EV efforts will lead to a world where a predominantly ICE based automobile manufacturer can gain greater traction with its EV platforms. Nissan seems to do well selling its Leaf within one brand, I’m sure that not all strategies fit all organizations. I’m just hoping that BMW’s establishment of BMW i and its insistence on selling its purpose built i3 and i8 with such a radical design departure from the BMW aesthetic that some BMW owners (such as myself and my better half) expect will not be a misstep.