June 14, 2011

Ford tripling hybrid production

The second-largest U.S. automaker has said one in four cars it sells by 2020 will have an electric motor and a big battery of some sort. To reach that goal, Ford will ramp up production of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles to 100,000 within two years. It is investing $135 million and adding 220 jobs at three Michigan factories to hit that goal, which includes rolling out models to compete with the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt.

Ford is taking aim at two of its biggest competitors with a hybrid and plug-in hybrid based on the C-Max model it sells in Europe. The two cars roll into showrooms next year as part of the automaker's aggressive plan to triple production of hybrid and electric vehicles by 2013.

"This is really a big deal for us because we're seeing a growing appetite for fuel-efficient and green vehicles," said Jim Farley, group vice president of marketing, sales and service. "May was our biggest month for small cars in decades. Customers are really prioritizing fuel economy."
The C-Max Hybrid (pictured) will join the excellent Fusion Hybrid in chipping away at the market dominance of the Toyota Prius. The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, meanwhile, appears aimed at the Chevrolet Volt and forthcoming Prius plug-in hybrid.
Both will use the same platform as the Ford Focus, meaning they will share suspension components and other hardware. Ford didn't offer any specs but promised the C-Max Hybrid will deliver better fuel economy than the 41 mpg city and 36 highway of the Fusion Hybrid. The Energi will offer a combined gas-electric range of 500 miles.

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