Recently Ford hosted an electric vehicle (EV) demonstration in Seattle that a colleague and I were fortunate to attend. At the demonstration, we were able to test drive the 2012 Ford Focus Electric. Not only was it very fast off the line, but we were impressed with its regenerative braking system that comes with a digital “brake coach” embedded in the dash. The brake coach provides a percent rating of how much energy was recaptured based on how you applied the brake. A smooth, consistent braking application is best and will earn you a score of 100 percent.

After a quick spin around the Space Needle, by South Lake Union and along the waterfront (okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly a ‘quick’ spin), we looked at each other and said almost simultaneously “it drives like a car.” I was later told that is a common reaction because of the surprising fact that…it is a car!

Mike Tinskey, director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure at Ford Motor Company, explained that this is exactly the reaction Ford intends. Ford wants you to think about the Focus Electric like it’s a car, talk about it like it’s a car, and most importantly, drive it like it’s a car. This starts with the body style. You wouldn’t know that the Focus Electric is electrically powered based on the way it looks. In fact, the car is manufactured on the same line as its internal combustion counterpart. Of course, there are distinct differences in the way you fuel and maintain an EV, but Ford and its partners are doing everything possible to provide a smooth transition for the customer.

This starts with Ford’s strategic partnerships with Leviton, Best Buy and SunPower. They’re making it easy and affordable for Focus Electric owners to install home charging stations. In fact, if you want to harness the sun to help power your Focus Electric (a smart way to go, as research shows), you can choose to add a SunPower PV system to your home. You can even get the full package right at the Ford dealership.

Recent technology and process innovations like these are going a long way to making EVs affordable and accessible. As electric utilities across the country continue to incorporate special EV charging rates and the price of gas continues to rise, I find myself considering an EV purchase now more than ever. These are exciting times for the EV industry!