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The price war: Will cheaper Ford Focus beat out C-Max Energi?

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(Read caption) U.S. President Barack Obama gets into an electric Ford Focus in Holland, Mich. in 2010. The 2014 Ford Focus is now $35,995 — 10 percent cheaper than its 2013 counterpart.

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If you've been considering an electric car but have been deterred by pricing, it might be worth another try—or at least another look at the numbers.

This past week, Ford dropped the price of the 2014 Focus Electric to $35,995; that's about a 10-percent cut from the 2013 sticker price of $39,995.

This past week, we caught up with Ford's Focus Electric Marketing Manager Chad D'Arcy, on the matter. While D'Arcy wouldn't speculate on what is or isn't happening in the electric-car market, he did say that keeping pace with the market is a chief concern.

“The biggest thing is that we wanted to remain competitive ... and we're going to continue to monitor the competitive environment,” said D'Arcy.

Downward pricing pressure

It's rare to see a price adjustment of this magnitude in the auto industry (although Nissan did effectively cut the price of the Leaf by about this much going into 2013 after it shifted production from Japan to the U.S.).

More importantly, perhaps, at the Ford lot it adds up to a final effective price to consumers that's virtually the same as that of the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.

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Considering the $7,500 tax credit, for the 2014 Focus Electric, that cuts the effective price to $28,495.

D'Arcy says that Ford sent advance notification to all its dealerships the week before last, and the automaker will make sure that remaining 2013 models don't end up costing more than 2014 models in dealership lots.

“We'll support the '13 with various incentives so it's not out of pace with the '14,” he said.

Considering market price, more of a reality check

Yet the price drop isn't quite as dramatic as it might sound—more of a further nudge downward on the transaction price. According to Edmunds, the 2013 Focus Electric is already selling for more than $2,000 below sticker—and a current Ford incentive drops that another $1,000, to a True Market Value of $36,679, or $29,179 after considering the credit.

On the other hand, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi has a base sticker price of $33,745, and the $3,751 federal tax credit that applies to it drops the price to $29,994. Edmunds also notes a True Market Value well below MSRP—$30,975, considering the $1,000 current incentive, or $27,524 with the tax credit.

The important message to take away, in our opinion is that with the post-credit price of the 2014 Focus Electric at $28,495 and the post-credit price of the 2013 C-Max Energi $27,524, there's now less than a $1,000 net price difference between these two plug-ins.

Two very different plug-in products, now around the same price

They're very different cars, of course. While the Ford Focus Electric has no internal combustion engine under the hood—and an EPA-rated range of 76 miles—the Ford C-Max Energi has an EPA-rated electric range of 21 miles, but its gasoline-electric hybrid system assures a total range of up to 620 miles.

While you'll find transaction prices dipping down to the new net price, don't hold out for an even better lease deal.

“We feel very confident where we were on that one,” D'Arcy said of the current Ford-subsidized lease of $229 a month with $1,999 down.

Calendar year to date, Ford has sold just over 900 Focus Electrics. And unlike some all-electric models, the Focus Electric is now available in 49 states—not just California-emissions states.

So if you like Ford's plug-in products, now the question really becomes: For about the same money, would you buy a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, or would you buy a Ford Focus Electric?

 


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