Ford has started taking reservations for its 2012 Focus Electric ahead of initial deliveries to dealers in California, New York and New Jersey. The vehicle is Ford's first all-electric passenger car and the first of five all-electric vehicles the company has planned for the next three years. With a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering a 130 kW (174 hp) permanent-magnet electric motor producing 181 lb-ft of torque (245 N-m), the Focus Electric boasts a range of up to 100 miles (161 km) on a single charge and a top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h).

The Focus Electric comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, two cluster-mounted, driver-configurable 4.2-inch color LCD displays, 17-inch aluminum wheels, ambient lighting, HID headlights, rear camera with rear parking sensor, push-button start, MyKey voice-activated navigation system, particulate air filter, hands-free SYNC Bluetooth phone connectivity with traffic, direction and information services, electronic traction control, Sony nine speaker sound system, SITIUS satellite radio and HD radio as standard.

There's also a MyFord mobile app that lets the owner remotely monitor and schedule the vehicle's battery charging to take advantage of off-peak electricity rates. The app also provides users with the location of the nearest charging station and the best route to get there. Meanwhile, the inclusion of MyKey technology allows custom settings for different drivers. For example, parents can restrict the vehicle's top speed or maximum stereo volume for teenage drivers.

In fact, the only options that will add to the price of the vehicle are a Blue Candy (add US$395) or White Platinum ($495) paint job and replacing the standard cloth seats with leather ($995).

Along with the Focus Electric's green credentials, which include construction using recyclable and renewable materials, Ford is also touting the vehicle as the most maintenance-free Ford ever. Being 100 percent electric and sporting a single speed transmission, the Focus Electric has less moving mechanical parts than an ICE-powered vehicle or hybrid, and eliminates more than two dozen components that require regular servicing over the life of a vehicle, including air filters, alternator, fuel injectors, fuel filter, spark plugs, transmission filter and water pump, just to name a few.

To help extend battery life and maximize driving range the vehicle boasts an active cooling and heating thermal management system to regulate the temperature of the battery system. On hot days, chilled water absorbs heat from the batteries, dispersing it through a radiator before pumping it through the chiller again, while on cold days, heated water warms the batteries to gradually bring them to the ideal operating temperature.

Using a 240-volt outlet the Focus Electric's batteries will take just over three hours to recharge, which Ford claims is about half the charging time of the 2012 Nissan LEAF. Ford also includes a 120-volt convenience cord for charging from a standard 120-volt outlet, which extends the recharge time to around 18 to 20 hours. For drivers looking to go the extra green mile, Ford has also partnered with solar technology company SunPower to offer Focus Electric buyers a discounted rooftop solar system at a base price of under US$10,000.

Ford is now taking orders for the 2012 Focus Electric online with a limited number of vehicles headed first to California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego) and the New York/New Jersey regions. Availability will be extended to Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Orlando, Phoenix, Tucson, Portland, Raleigh Durham, Richmond, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. next year as production ramps up. The European launch of the vehicle is slated for late 2012. Prices start at US$39,200 plus $795 for destination charges. The maximum federal tax credit will cut the price by $7,500.