In a move intended to enhance the competitive position of its 2014 Ford Focus Electric model, the automaker has reduced the base price of this 5-door hatchback from $39,995 to $35,995. Despite this 10-percent drop, Ford says there will be no change to the vehicle's impressive feature set, or to its 76-mile per-charge range or 105 MPGe EPA rating.

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Even with their healthy selection of federal, state and local incentives led by up to a $7,500 federal tax credit, consumers have been slow to embrace these far greener but costlier and often-less-practical alternatives to conventional models. Ford's action came after similar reductions were announced earlier in the year by GM on the Chevy Volt - which saw its price of entry sliced from $39,995 to $35,995 - as well as by Nissan on its groundbreaking Leaf. At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the Japanese automaker introduced a new but slightly de-contented LEAF S base model that starts at $29,650, a $6,400 price drop compared to the previous entry-level Leaf.

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It will be interesting to see how great an impact Ford's pricing recalibration ultimately does have on sales volume of the 2014 Focus Electric. So far this year, the automaker has sold only 900 2013 Focus EVs while the Volt accounted for 9,855 units during the first six months and Leaf volume rose to 9,839 -- over three times more than its 2012 number during the same period.

While senior market analyst Karl Brauer agrees that greater affordability will be key to attracting new buyers into the EV fold, he also notes that expanding the scope of this emerging segment from early adopters to mainstream consumers is likely to remain a formidable challenge for automakers. "Given their range- and space-related limitations, no one is sure exactly how many total electric vehicles U.S. buyers are really ready to accept at this point, regardless of price."

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