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USA: Ford Pushes Its Electric-Drive Roadmap

ord CEO Alan Mulally opened the New York International Auto Show with a keynote outlining the company’s roadmap for greener cars and trucks. Mulally said there is still “so much room to improve the internal combustion engine,” but said the company plans to roll out more hybrids and electric vehicles.

Ford demonstrated its commitment to its hybrid and electric car plan by unveiling the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid—the first of five new electric-drive vehicles expected in the next four years. Unlike competitors that announce green vehicles years before release, Ford chose to introduce the MKZ Hybrid only months before it will go on sale. The hybrid, the first from Lincoln, will be available this fall.

While the MKZ Hybrid—expected to deliver 41 mpg in the city— could beat all other luxury models in terms of fuel economy numbers, it’s the most conservative of the four new electric-drive vehicles coming from Ford. The MKZ Hybrid is essentially an upscale and low-volume version of the company’s award-winning Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Comprehensive and Aggressive PlanOn the other hand, Ford is taking bold and innovative steps with its next set of electric vehicles, including the Transit Connect Electric delivery truck in late 2010, the Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid version of the Ford Escape in 2012, and a pair of next-generation hybrids by 2013. Mulally added that the company also continues to develop hydrogen technology.

Ford will not be the first to deliver a mass-market electric sedan or plug-in hybrid. The all-electric Nissan Leaf and plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt will go on sale late this year—although in limited markets. If Ford stays in schedule, the full-scale rollout of its hybrids and other electric-drive cars will be more aggressive, and include more models and a wider range of technologies, than any other carmaker.


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