DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., responding to soft sales for the Ford Focus EV and recent moves by rivals, has launched a wave of discounts and special lease deals to spur demand for the alternative-powered compact car.
Ford is offering discounts of up to $10,750 on three-year leases and has lowered the base price on the Focus EV by $2,000 for buyers who pay cash. The company also is offering 1.9 percent financing on the all-electric car for buyers who borrow from Ford Motor Credit Co.
The Focus EV went on sale in April 2012 with a base price of $39,995, including $795 destination charge. Ford's Web site currently lists the base price at $37,995, including a $795 destination charge for "cash-only" sales.
Some EV buyers may be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
The discounts were reported by The Detroit News today.
Ford sold 685 Focus EVs last year -- well short of the 1,627 units it produced at a plant in Wayne, Mich., near Detroit.
Nissan Motor Co., also moving to spur EV sales, last week slashed the price of the 2013 Leaf to $28,800, down 18 percent from the starting price of $35,200. Leaf prices exclude a destination charge of $850.
In addition to the Leaf, the Focus EV is competing with other alternative-powered models inside Ford showrooms, such as the new C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid, and 2013 Fusion hybrid, which went on sale last fall.
Ford is also gearing up to sell a plug-in hybrid version of the Fusion, which will go on sale early this year.
Sales of the Focus EV will be expanded to all 50 states early this year.
"We will continue to offer competitive pricing and monitor the market as our competitors discount their vehicles further," Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said. "We offer a great value as the car can cost less than $30,000 in key markets such as California after tax credits. This is just a few thousand dollars more than a fully loaded gas-powered Focus."
Chevrolet also is offering discounted lease deals -- $329 for 36 months, with $2,599 due at signing -- on the Volt plug-in.
Analysts say the drop in gasoline prices in recent months has also undercut consumer demand for EVs.
Overall, U.S. sales of hybrids, EVs and other alternative-power vehicles climbed 70 percent last year to 488,417. Most of the increase was led by sales gains at Toyota Motor Corp., which has expanded the Prius family, and GM.
But EVs, hybrids, plug-ins and other alternative vehicles remain a small part of the overall U.S. market, with 3.4 percent of sales in 2012, up from 2.2 percent in 2011.
Sales for plug-ins grew 199 percent in 2012, outpacing the gains of other alternative-powered vehicles.