Ford Motor Co. plans to start a two-year test program of electric Focus compact cars and Transit vans in Germany on Jan. 4. The company prepares to import in the market battery-powered models this year.

The 25 vehicles will be driven under normal traffic conditions in Cologne, where Ford’s European division is based.

According to Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen, drivers will consist of customers and researchers and the models will be controlled by the computers, that can excite testing of more than 10.000 vehicles.

According to Bernd Meier, it is the first study in Europe.

Ford, the first U.S. automaker to offer a hybrid model, said on Dec. 8 that it may spend $300 million to $500 million on factories in its home state of Michigan to build electric vehicles and batteries. The Dearborn-based company has a target of rolling out an electric-powered version of the Transit Connect commercial van next year, followed by an electric Focus in 2011.

Local utility RheinEnergie AG will supply vehicle-charging stations for the test, which is being financed by the German government’s economic-stimulus package, Dudenhoeffer said.

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