Ford officials say the 2012 Focus Electric will achieve more than a 100 mpg equivalent. That would make it the highest mpg equivalent for a five-passenger vehicle. The $39,200 Focus EV goes on sale in select markets by year's end with a full rollout next year. Like other electric cars, it's eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
The EPA's "MPGe" rating, adopted for electric vehicles, assumes 33.7 kilowatt-hours per gallon of gas. Of course, your costs will vary based on your local electric rates, but all things being equal, the Focus Electric should squeeze out more savings than the 2012 Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe) or 2012 Chevrolet Volt (94 MPGe within the EV range). The EPA rates the Mitsubishi i at 112 MPGe, but it only seats four.
On a 240-volt charger -- known as a Level 2 charger -- the Focus EV can recharge in up to four hours. That's about half the time it takes a Leaf, and both travel about 75 miles on battery power. The Volt charges in about four hours on a Level 2 charger, but it runs only about 35 miles before its gas generator kicks in. The Mitsubishi i takes around seven hours to fully charge, with an estimated range of 62 miles. Honda reckons its 2013 Fit EV, meanwhile, will go an EPA-rated 76 miles and charge in as little as three hours on a Level 2 charger. The EPA has yet to rate the car's mpg equivalent, however.
Other nuggets of info Ford shared:
* Ford's MyFord Mobile application will let you see battery range based on charge levels and driving habits. It can also show money and carbon dioxide saved, a driving-efficiency score -- versus, say, your spouse's -- plus watt-hours per mile. You can plan trips to known charging stations that are color-coded to signal whether they're in range. Pick one and the app can send directions to the Focus EV's navigation system.
* The car's gauges show blue butterflies to represent surplus range. If you're 10 miles away from a charging destination with 25 miles of range left over, for example, the screens show 15 butterflies.
* Ford expects the 2013 C-Max Hybrid to beat the Toyota Prius V's gas mileage, and it expects the plug-in C-Max Energi will beat a Prius plug-in. The Energi will have more than 500 miles of total range, EV engineering director Sherif Marakby said. Like any plug-in hybrid, full-throttle starts will fire up the engine for maximum acceleration, but you'll be able to activate an EV mode that restricts engine use until the battery completely drains. For safety's sake, Ford says when the battery is low the Energi will kick in full engine power if you stand on the accelerator.
* Ford and electrical device manufacturer Leviton will offer a Level 2 charging station that installs on a 240-volt outlet -- common for large household appliances. The charger will retail for around $1,500, including installation, but currently you'll get a 30 percent federal tax credit for installing one, in addition to any state and local incentives. The charger is detachable and has a transferrable 10-year warranty. Chief engineer John Davis told us Ford builds the car's charging port to the Society of Automotive Engineers standard, so it's compatible with any 240-volt charger -- even a Chevy Volt's.