What is it?
Ford has been working for some time on an electric Focus to trial with residents of north-west London. The Focus BEV (battery electric vehicle) is the first car to emerge from its Ultra-Low Carbon Development Vehicle programme, or ULCDV, as it's catchily known at the Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, where we drove this prototype.
What's it like?
Focus drivers will find much that they recognise in the interior of the BEV. The most obvious changes are the replacement of the rev counter with a red-green economy gauge, which shows the amount of power you're using or reclaiming as you brake, and the lack of a handbrake lever (an electric one is integrated into the auto-style gear selector). Despite appearances, the selector simply determines whether the motor is driving the front wheels and in which direction.
The most visible change is in the boot, which loses roughly half its volume to house three battery packs and the charging system. The remaining four packs are under the boot floor, in place of the fuel tank.
Ford has put much of its efforts into making the BEV as similar to a normal driving experience as possible. Step-off is smooth, and brisk if you floor it, while there's a small amount of creep in 'D', which aids low-speed manoeuvring.
The Mitsubishi iMiEV has a slightly more polished feel to the drivetrain, but the Focus undoubtedly has the edge in terms of ride and handling, which does much to disguise the extra 200kg at the rear of the car.
Shoudl I buy one?
Ford has no plans to put the BEV into production, but given a suitable urban environment and stop-start duty cycle, it's easy to see how this could be a very usable family car.