While the Nissan LEAF is already being delivered in small numbers in select U.S. markets and Ford doesn’t plan to get any Focus Electrics into consumer hands until late 2011, the competition between the two vehicles is shaping up to be pretty interesting.
MotorTrend has published a useful comparative analysis of the Focus Electric and LEAF, and it gives the Focus Electric a slight edge over the LEAF. Of course, there are some big unknowns in terms of the Focus Electric, the biggest being, of course, price. Ford has not announced a specific price for the Focus Electric while the LEAF is selling for $32,780 with Federal and state tax incentives likely to bring the cost down for many, but not necessarily all, buyers.
We’ve done our own analysis of the Focus Electric features and predicted a pre-tax credit price of about $34,250, slightly higher than the LEAF. Of course, if Ford can offer a price equal to, or less, than the LEAF, it would up its potential advantage among buyers — and might earn an extra check mark from MotorTrend.
Here’s a brief overview of the MotorTrend review:
Power: Advantage, Nissan. What it lacks in horsepower, the Leaf makes up in torque and top speed, says MotorTrend.
Battery/Charge Time: Advantage, Ford. The holy grail of EVs is a charging time as short as filling a gas tank. Ford’s looks like it will be closer, says MotorTrend.
Weight: Advantage, Nissan. Weight is the enemy of range and the Focus Electric, which is 300 pounds heavier than the LEAF, is, says MotorTrend, “a portly compact”.
Handling: Advantage, Ford. It’s a narrow margin, but MotorTrend says it expects a better suspension and tires over the center of gravity to boost the Focus, although, the magazine notes, “We’ll have to drive it to know for sure.”
Range: Tie, or, really, unknown — although MotorTrend speculates that the Focus might have a shorter range due to its heavier weight and less sophisticated aerodynamics.
Price: Advantage, Nissan. MotorTrend speculates that the Focus Electric will cost more than the LEAF, primarily because it will offer a liquid thermal management for its battery pack, something the LEAF lacks.
Gadgets: Advantage, Ford. The Focus Electric’s got more of these, so it’s a pretty clear win for the FE, says MotorTrend.
Space: Unknown. Like “range”, it’s unclear which car has better space at this point, says MotorTrend, which is still waiting to test the Focus Electric.
Looks: Advantage, Ford. MotorTrend puts it pretty simply: “We just like the way it looks better.”
In the end, according to MotorTrend’s book of comparative categories, the Focus Electric beats the LEAF, 4-3.
MotorTrend also claims that the LEAF has a pretty big advantage over the Focus Electric because it’s already on the U.S. market and will have been available for about a year by the time Ford starts delivering its FE’s in 19 select U.S. markets. We’re not so sure. Seems to us the biggest issue in terms of Nissan’s alleged competitive advantage for being on the U.S. market longer than the Focus Electric will be geography. Yes, the LEAF will have been out in some U.S. markets long before the Focus Electric. However, in countless others, it will barely beat the Focus Electric to market. In fact, it’s certainly possible the Focus Electric will be available to consumers in some U.S. markets before the LEAF is.
For the full MotorTrend review, go to: http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1101_2013_ford_focus_electric_2011_nissan_leaf_vs_comparison/index.html