Ford Hybrid SUVs Head to Market for 2005

Production on the hybrid model of the 2005 Ford Escape sports utility vehicle (SUV) coincided with the release of Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s Energy Independence Plan. Kerry announced he wants to offer a US$ 5,000 consumer incentive to people who purchase clean-energy vehicles, and the Escape Hybrid would fit the bill.

Claycomo, Missouri – August 9, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Fuel economy numbers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate that the SUV hybrid gets 36 miles-per-gallon (mpg) in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway. The Escape is built with a four-cylinder engine that is combined with an electric drive system to enhance acceleration. The hybrid SUV’s engine shuts down during idling to conserve fuel, and the electric generator is used to start the gasoline engine. Regenerative braking is used to recharge the battery instead of relying on an outside electricity source. The vehicle produces 97 percent less hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen emissions than other vehicles that meet the nationwide Tier I emissions standard, according to Ford. Low emissions qualify the hybrid for the Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards. “Ford has a history of introducing vehicles that change our industry and change our world. Escape Hybrid is one of those vehicles, ” said Ford’s CEO, Bill Ford. “Escape Hybrid is our first production vehicle aimed at mainstream customers powered by anything other than an internal combustion engine.” Ford plans to manufacture about 20,000 Escape hybrids during the first full year of production. In addition to hybrid vehicles, the car company has plans to invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, hydrogen internal combustion engines, clean diesel, biodiesel and other fuel- reducing technologies. Despite the announcement for the emissions friendlier SUV, some environmentalists were less than impressed with the hybrid announcement. MSNBC interviewed Jennifer Krill from the Rainforest Action Network, and she said the company’s efforts weren’t as spectacular as they might seem. “We liken Ford’s hybrid Escape release to an alcoholic going from 20 drinks a day to 19 drinks a day,” Krill stated in the MSNBC article, which is available on the Web site of the League of Conservation Voters. “Ford cannot escape its oil dependence with a few thousand hybrid SUVs.”
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