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PHOTO CAPTION: Ford/Magna Project M electric car

Ford's Project M Electric Car Charges Ahead

While GM's Volt was puttering around on a golf cart motor, Ford was racing plug-in hybrids behind the brick walls of its Dearborn test track.

Published: 02-Feb-2009

For months, Ford Motor Co. and Magna International Inc. had been talking about an electric vehicle. In September, executives at the Canadian supplier told Ford they had a surprise. They pulled up in Dearborn in a Ford Focus they had bought and converted to battery power on their dime, without Ford's knowledge.

"It was a phenomenal car," said Lisa Drake, Ford's chief engineer for hybrid programs, adding that she couldn't help smiling when she saw it. "We were highly, highly impressed."

So impressed that just four months later, amid otherwise bleak times for the auto industry, Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. stood before the world's automotive journalists in Cobo Arena to announce plans to bring a car based on that prototype to market in 2011.

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