All electric Ford Focus to debut in 2011

  Ford Motor Co. unveiled what it boasted was a “world-beating” new-generation Ford Focus at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this morning and announced its intentions to sell an all-electric version of the vehicle starting next year.

The company said the electric version of the Focus will be built at a factory in Michigan that previously manufactured sport utility vehicles, which Ford President of the Americas Mark Fields observed was an example of how quickly the auto industry and consumer tastes were shifting.

The price will be competitive with other electric vehicles, such as rival Chevrolet’s Volt, but he didn’t elaborate.

It will be built alongside the next-generation Focus, a compact car that the automaker sees as a key part of its strategy to leverage global design and engineering to produce a vehicle that will sell well in many global markets.

The new Focus will be nearly identical in all markets, with 80% parts commonality around the world.

“The efficiencies generated by our new global C-car platform will enable us to provide Ford Focus customers with an affordable product offering quality, fuel efficiency, safety and technology beyond their expectations,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive.

Focus will come in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. Production starts for Europe and North America late in 2010 and sales begin early in 2011.

In other news, Ford captured both the North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year awards for the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2010 Ford Transit Connect, respectively. It marked the third time in 17 years that one manufacturer had won both titles, which were awarded by a panel of automotive journalists.

The Fusion Hybrid – a mid-size hybrid that gets about 40 miles to the gallon in city driving, edged out finalists including the Buick LaCrosse and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.

The Transit Connect, a cargo and work van targeted at small businesses and people in construction trades, beat out the Chevrolet Equinox and Subaru Outback to win North American Truck of the Year.

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