Electric cars usually take one of two forms -- the small, cutesy runabout or the insane tarmac-shredding hypercar. Ford, however, is dipping its toes in the middle ground, having recently unveiled an electric version of its long-running Focus.

The Focus BEV -- battery electric vehicle -- is essentially an 'electrified' (Ford's wording) version of the current petrol-powered car. As a result, it'll happily ferry five passengers in relative comfort -- something most electric cars can only dream of.

Its electric powertrain, provided by Magna, is based on technology that'll feature in Ford's forthcoming C-sized (think Ford C-MAX) electric vehicle architecture, due for release in North America in 2011. It'll feature a lithium-ion battery pack with a modest 23kWh capacity and a chassis-mounted 100kW permanent-magnet electric traction motor. Together, they'll give the BEV a range of up to 75 miles and a top speed of up to 85mph. Recharging time is currently slated to take between 6 and 8 hours on a household 230V outlet.

Sadly, you won't be able to buy a Focus BEV any time in the near future, but you can expect to see them on our roads very soon. A consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University will begin using the fleet of 15 prototype vehicles in and around the London Borough of Hillingdon from early 2010.

If the trials are successful, and Ford can figure out a way of making the lithium-ion batteries in these cars affordable, then businesses and consumers will be offered a slice of the electric BEV pie. That's your lot for now. Check out the pictures in our gallery for further details.

The BEV will charge up from any household plug, or via one of the many charging stations in and around London. A full charge will take somewhere between 6 and 8 hours on a standard electrical outlet.
You'll need a garage if you intend to charge it at home, though. Either that, or a really long extension cable.
The Focus BEV is one of very few electric cars that will seat five fully grown adults in comfort.
And the best news: it doesn't look like some weird piece of alien transport from the future.
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