Ford’s electric Comuta Concept – 43 years after its debut


March 11, 2011

It's extraordinary what pops up in the in-box each week. Those with a keen eye for fashion will note that the picture is from the sixties – the Ford Comuta was a concept presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1967. It was all-electric, had a top speed of 40 mph and a range of 40 miles, and that was 40 years ago. The upcoming electric Ford Focus has more than double the range (160 km) and double the top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h), but surely the Comuta is worth digging out of the archives for a second look. With modern motors and advanced controllers and high density batteries, the Comuta might be quite suitable for European cities such as London where road speeds haven't progressed much since the horse and cart.

The photo is part of an exploration of its photographic archives which is being shared by Ford of Great Britain, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Great concept and it should be revived in modern form...bring back the mini skirt worn by the mmodel while you\'re at it!!


I\'m happy that im new to this website.... best regards

Facebook User

@mg - either quote your sources or have the finger of \"making it up\" pointed at you. I never read such nonsense in a long time - you\'re clearly a troll.

A quick search indicates:

which states 8450 people in the UK died from obesity related illness (from 1995 to 2006) - so 11 years = average of 748 per year

However, according to:, in 2006, 3142 people died in Road Accidents in the UK.


Probably the original Comuta wouldn\'t comply with modern safety requirements but the concept seems just right for today\'s city traffic with enough space for delivering kids to school or wherever, plus room for a bit of shopping. Ford should update this, change the batteries and drive systems for modern technology and then this could really be a success!


Britain used to have acceptable speeds, in the 70\'s they restricted them as the price of oil quadrupled overnight. They never returned the temporary speed limit (70mph) back to what it was.

At no point is speed dangerous, the vehicle maybe dangerous, the road conditions may be dangerous, the person tailgating you maybe dangerous, the person stepping in front of you may be dangerous, but as far as i know speed isnt. Otherwise we would all be dead when the sun came up.

As long as the road-surface is maintained, the vehicle is maintained and its driver is competant its possible to travel saftely at over 200mph. More deaths occur from people eating too much than will ever die in car accidents. More deaths occur from driving to slow than will ever occur from driving too fast. Most children are killed by people in 4x4 reversing over them in drive-ways or schools. Youre talking 0-10mph is the most dangerous speed for a vehicle to travel at in the world if you wish to identify it.


I thought that maybe the above comment was from Jeremy Clarkson with another ridiculous justification for unacceptable road behaviour but even he would not write such trash.


This was a valid concept then and is a valid concept now . . . give us an inexpensive electric for our local driving . . . PLEASE


I\'m afraid I\'m not up to speed with safety statistics, but I am familiar with the fashion of the sixties. Thanks for the refresher.


Mentioning Clarkson and Tiny cars in London,Why couldn\'t we have something like this available now, or the Peel Car He was able to drive TO work,and even AT work inside TV Centre?!

Facebook User

Mg, Actually the temporary speed limit during the oil crisis was 50mph and was removed when things improved. Ian Colley


Yeah Jim, let\'s all just drive semi trucks around to make sure we are safe in an accident.

This car reminds me of several cars that are now popular in the US, and of some compacts that are popular in other nations. Truth is, we would all be safer if average size of cars went down, but getting there is a bit of tricky game theory.

Charles Bosse

If you get into an accident with this vehicle , you can save money on NOT buying a casket . They can just leave you in it and bury you in your favorite car since they would have to cut it all apart to just get you out of it. Have any of you ever crushed a pop can with you foot / Same thing.

Jim Andrews

DaddyHoggy, MG is correct. You limited to obesity, while in reality almost all heart disease is bad diet. Not sure what else is being argued, but the reality is that high speeds have fewer accidents because the traffic is much more predictable and restricted.


It doesn\'t even appear that her long legs would even fit into the driver\'s foot well...they\'d be coming out the front of the grille... :)

But, all-electric cars for the dense urban environment makes sense, as long as there are curbside chargers for all the cars at night, especially for those without private garages.

Matt Rings

Ever since the first Ford Focus hit the streets, I\'ve been calling it the Ford F**k-Us. ;) If your Focus is blurry, you\'re too drunk to drive!

This Commuta shows there\'s hardly anything new in automobiles, it\'s just some advancements in materials, styling and some of the details. Electric hybrids have been around for nearly 100 years. (Look up the Owen Magnetic.) Homebuilt hydraulic hybrids were getting 75 MPG with* freeway driving performance over 30 years ago.

*Including the propensity for car companies giving their rigs stupid names.

Facebook User

Be careful how you use the words \"higher density batteries\" Its actually the reverse. You should of course have referred to higher power density batteries.

ken B

Ken Brittain

\"Before the pre-eminence of internal combustion engines, electric automobiles held many speed and distance records. Among the most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier, by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899 in his \'rocket-shaped\' vehicle Jamais Contente, which reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph). Before the 1920s, electric automobiles were competing with petroleum-fueled cars for urban use of a quality service car.\" [\"electric automobile.\" Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2009..]

Steve Caskanette

Steve, Before the 1920\'s internal combustion engines ran on alcohol. It wasn\'t until prohibition that gasoline was forced onto the public and into our automobiles.

Facebook User

Steve.... thinking that Karl Benz ran his car on Gasoline, which was procured from the Pharmacist as rubbing spirits...(it was the little used byproduct of refining Paraffin from Oil / coal, whichever hydrocarbon containing product you had at hand.)

Not sure you can get more \"before the 1920\'s\" than that..... indeed that was (\'about\' if you won\'t like absolutes) the FIRST car with an internal combustion engine.

Ask Mrs Benz who ran out of gas on a visit to her mother\'s in the next town, not a lot of gas stations then...

Check this for American versions of history.... \"The automobile was probably the most significant invention in the 20's. Although an automobile, which was powered by steam, was invented in 1866, this car was moved by a fuel powered combustion engine. Invented by Henry Ford, \"

What was invented by Mr Ford, the car... come on, that was invented by a German or 2..


Stepping back to look at the future. Aluminium and plastic body, electric motor, no gear box or dif, put lead acid batteries in it for short drive and lithium for serious driving. Should cost between $2000 and $6000. Throw in a portable generator for $300 and you have basic transport that will force down the price of petrol. WIN WIN WIN.


@ Facebook user.. The term hybrid is somewhat ambiguous and the example you mentioned (Owens Electric) is nothing like todays hybrid. The Owens merely used an ICE driving a generator as a form of transmission eliminating the maintenance prone clutch and crash gearboxes of that era.The sole method of propulsion was liquid fuel without it the car wouldn't move unlike todays hybrids which have two sources of energy. I personally think it a mis-use of the term hybrid which probably didn't exist in automotive speak during these early periods. It should mean two energy sources "independent" of each other for moving the vehicle but somewhere along the line the "waters have been muddied".


With the developement of batteries and electric drive systems improving, I think this little car would make more sense now than it did back then.

With Tesla open sourcing their patents, perhaps this technology could improve electric vehicles as well as this little car.

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