Ford has unveiled its first mainstream electric vehicle at dual ceremonies in Las Vegas and New York.

In one of the most hotly-anticipated speeches at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Ford CEO Alan Mulally took the wraps off the Ford Focus Electric, expected to be delivered in America later this year.

The five-door hatchback is the first in a series of five electric vehicles Ford will deliver by 2013 and is the company's first electric passenger vehicle - late last year it began shipments of an electric Transit Connect van to select customers in the US and Europe.

Like the Transit Connect Electric, the new Focus Electric uses lithium-ion batteries and can deliver a top speed of 84 mph (136 kph), although no details have been released on the expected range of the vehicle, which is likely to be a key deciding factor for consumers.

When it eventually hits showrooms, the Ford Focus Electric will compete with the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, which went on sale for the first time in December, with Ford taking an early swipe at its General Motors rival by promising a mile-per-gallon equivalent higher than that of the Volt.

In another move likely to provoke further competition in the rapidly-growing electric vehicle industry, Ford also revealed that using the separately installed 240V charging station, the Focus Electric will charge in three to four hours, half the time required by the Nissan Leaf.

Continuing a focus on vehicle telematics that has dominated CES this year, Mulally confirmed that the car will incorporate Ford's SYNC technology, allowing drivers to remotely charge, unlock and start their vehicle as well as locating it on a map and obtaining information on the predicted range remaining and nearest charging stations.

The Consumer Electronics Show runs January 6-9 in Las Vegas.

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