Focus Electric flexes the butterfly effect

In the Focus Electric, the more blue butterflies displayed, the more surplus electric power the vehicle has, beyond what it needs to get to its next charging station. Photo credit: Ford
Who says electric-vehicle marketing can't have a "cute" factor?

Earlier this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show, it looked like Nissan had the edge on cuteness. It used a giant dancing polar bear -- actually a guy in a costume - to greet media and other guests at a reception in honor of the new Leaf.

The door prize? A little stuffed polar bear in a World Wildlife Federation bag, complete with adoption papers. Why all the bear imagery? It's a reference to the automaker's TV campaign for the vehicle, which includes a scene of a man hugging one of the animals.

Today it was Ford's turn. It's taking cute in a different direction with the instrument cluster in the new Focus Electric.

In Ford's hybrid cars, the automaker has a display that uses leaves growing on a vine to illustrate how efficiently a person is driving. The more leaves, the more efficient the driving.

In the Focus Electric, blue butterflies replace the leaves. The more of the creatures that flit around the screen, the more surplus electric power the vehicle has, beyond what it needs to get to its next charging station.

Amy Garby, Ford's manager of EV electronics, explained the purpose of the butterflies during Ford's keynote address here Friday to introduce the Focus Electric.

Said Garby: "Our designers chose butterflies to celebrate the phenomenon known as the butterfly effect. The idea that small change can have enormous impact, just as one person choosing to drive electric can influence other people to make the transition."

You can reach Leslie J. Allen at lallen@crain.com
Tags: CES Ford Focus

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