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Alan Mulally Has a New Line

Friday, 7 Jan 2011 | 4:59 PM ET
Alan Mullaly at CES
Source: Ford
Alan Mullaly at CES

Alan Mulally has a new line: "Ford, The App of Choice for Car Buyers."

Not bad Alan. It's a clever twist on your standard, "Ford, buy one." And with Ford jumping into the electric car race with the Focus Electric, the line works.

Why?

Because the Focus Electric will be as much about how owners interact with the car through their smart phone as it will be about the driving experience. We're headed for a world where you can put apps on your car (especially electric ones) just as you do with your smart phone. Ford wants to lead that transition.

So will the Focus Electric be the EV of choice with car buyers? It depends on the price (it will be priced higher than the Focus models on sale now between $16,000 and $26,000) and how many people want an all-electric car. Ford's not saying how far it will go fully charged, only that it will be competitive. With Nissan's LEAF promising to get up to 100 miles fully charged, under the right conditions, the Focus Electric will likely be in the same ballpark.

Ford says you can charge Focus Electric is 3-4 hours, about half the time of the LEAF. Its top speed is just 84 miles per hour, which shouldn't be an issue, but car buyers are weird about top speed. Most of us rarely drive over 80 mph, but knowing you're capped at 85 might seem strange to some.

Mulally & LeBeau
CNBC's Phil LeBeau talks to Ford CEO Alan Mulally about the new Ford Focus Electric and about the company's offerings for the coming year.

My predication?

Focus Electric will do well if Ford can price it below the LEAF (which starts around $32,000) and if gas prices continue to rise. Sure it's appeal will mainly be for those who want a second car for running around town, but there is a market there. Now, we'll see if Ford is the App of choice for electric car buyers.

Nice line Alan. It works well.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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