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Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

  #1  
Old 09-21-2005, 06:24 AM
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Talking Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

From today's Detroit News:
Ford Motor Co. plans to offer hybrid versions of half the models in its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brand lineups by the end of the decade as part of a bold strategy to distinguish itself as a leader in safety and environmental innovation.

CEO Bill Ford Jr. is scheduled to outline the strategy today in Dearborn at the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory, which will be renamed to reflect the company's emphasis on innovation, two industry sources told The Detroit News.

The first Detroit carmaker to produce a gas-electric vehicle, Ford plans to ramp up production of hybrids from several thousand in '05 to 250,000 by 2010, the sources said.

Ford also plans to step up development of vehicles running on alternative sources of energy, such as ethanol, and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars in a bid to recapture the high ground from leading Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Bill Ford is a longtime champion of environmental causes, but the Dearborn automaker's main source of profit in recent years has been gas-guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles. Light trucks, however, are starting to lose their appeal because of high gas prices.

Ford's bid to position itself as a global leader in safety and environmental technology appears designed to distinguish the automaker from its larger and also troubled rival, General Motors Corp. Both automakers are losing money in North America. Ford and GM are expected to announce major downsizing plans soon.

But Bill Ford said recently that the company's restructuring effort also would contain some heartening elements.

In a speech in Washington last November, he signaled that innovative responses to safety and environmental issues would be crucial to Ford's long-term prospects.

"Technological innovation has always played a key role in America's economic success," he said.

"I'm convinced that providing market-driven solutions to these concerns is an outstanding business opportunity that will give us a competitive advantage."

He said the auto industry faced huge challenges in developing new powertrains. "But the potential rewards of this new technology are great. The 100-year reign of the gas-powered internal combustion engine could come to an end in our lifetime," he said.

With its new strategy, Ford is also trying to push back Japan's biggest automakers, which have stressed safety and environmental technology to bolster their brands and limit their reliance on profit-eroding incentives to sell their vehicles.

Last week in Frankfurt, Toyota executives said they expected eventually to offer a hybrid version of every vehicle in their lineup.

When Honda first introduced its fuel-efficient, hybrid Insight to the U.S. market in 1999, the technology was expected to appeal to a small core of environmentalists and technology enthusiasts.

But as the Japanese increased their offerings in the market, notably with the launch of Toyota's Prius compact, demand surged. Most customers now wait weeks or months for delivery of their new hybrids. Demand is so strong that some used hybrids command new-car prices.

Hybrids now account for 1 percent of the U.S. auto market, but the niche is expected to expand dramatically as more automakers, including GM, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan Motor Co. and Porsche offer hybrid models.

After the highly successful launch of its Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle last year, Ford is rolling out a hybrid version of the Mercury Mariner SUV.

So far, the automaker also has said that it was developing hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans.

Its Japanese affiliate Mazda is building a hybrid Tribute SUV.

DaimlerChrysler, GM and BMW, which recently announced plans to team up to develop hybrid powertrains, do not expect to put a vehicle on the market before 2007.

Most of the hybrid expertise is now concentrated in Japan, but Ford and GM officials have stressed the need to build up the number of hybrid specialist suppliers in North America.

As part of the company's new focus on technological innovation, Ford plans to take further advantage of the highly reputed safety equipment of its Volvo Cars subsidiary for vehicles of its other nameplates.
 
  #2  
Old 09-21-2005, 06:59 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

I think this is great news that they're trying to gain a technological advantage in an important area in order to rebuild the company -- rather than playing financing tricks to sell cars. Incentives work to get you over a short-term hump, but they are no long-term strategy.

The Mercury Mariner IS a Ford Escape IS a Mazda Tribute (they're all the same car). So making hybrid versions of each is a no-brainer -- they've already engineered the innards of the vehicle drive-train and hybrid system. The difference in the models is purely cosmetic (different interior and different body panels - and even the body panels aren't *much* different.).

Fleet vehicles have never been very profitable (they make pennies on these cars because of the volume negotiations from the buyers -- things like states that buy Ford Crown Victorias to use as police cars), but I do think that hybrid taxi-cabs would be a fantastic idea. Since cabs pretty much run 24x7 and mostly in stop-&-go traffic, the dollar value saved on annual fuel to run the car would be a much bigger savings than a consumer-owned hybrid.

I really don't want to see them muddy the hybrid with 'performance'. I wasn't very happy with Toyota's Highlander or Lexus RX400h hybrids. I was looking seriously at the Lexus RX 400h hybrid -- that is until I found how bad it's economy is. Nobody should offer a hybrid whose window sticker fuel economy doesn't at least start with the number "3" or higher. Toyota engineers should be forced to wear bags over their heads in utter humiliation and shame. They must have thought it was a great idea, but it really is the WORST of both worlds. Consumers get to pay the hybrid technology premium (let's face it, these cars aren't cheap) and STILL merely get traditional combustion-engine fuel economy. Why would I want that? I guess they were afraid consumers wouldn't like it's acceleration so they optimized on performance. If they're going to do that, at least put a switch on the dash that lets me go from "performance" mode to "economy" mode... because I prefer economy; screw performance. I _do_ however notice on Lexus (Toyota) website that they are going to offer a Lexus GS Hybird. It looks remakrably similar to the Prius. Let's just hope it gets Prius-like fuel economy and that they don't re-optimize their engine computer to give that car "performance".
 

Last edited by tcampb01; 09-21-2005 at 07:03 AM.
  #3  
Old 09-23-2005, 05:50 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal they had this quote from Chairman William Clay Ford Jr.:

"Other companies pretend they invented everything about hybrids. But they had to invent an entirely new vehicle to house them. We decided to put our hybrids into mainstream products that were already popular," adding that Ford's hybrids "were born in the USA."

I would wholeheartedly agree - it was the looks and features of the Ford Escape that I liked over the offerings from Japan - and then to get the Escape in a hybrid completely sealed the deal for me! And as for the Toyota Highlander, no thank you.
 
  #4  
Old 09-23-2005, 11:41 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

Well theres the honda civic and accord.
 
  #5  
Old 11-15-2006, 08:29 AM
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Default Ford bails out on hybrid promise

Originally Posted by dwmiller438
From today's Detroit News:
Ford Motor Co. plans to offer hybrid versions of half the models in its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brand lineups by the end of the decade as part of a bold strategy to distinguish itself as a leader in safety and environmental innovation.

CEO Bill Ford Jr. is scheduled to outline the strategy today in Dearborn at the Ford Scientific Research Laboratory, which will be renamed to reflect the company's emphasis on innovation, two industry sources told The Detroit News.

The first Detroit carmaker to produce a gas-electric vehicle, Ford plans to ramp up production of hybrids from several thousand in '05 to 250,000 by 2010, the sources said.

Ford also plans to step up development of vehicles running on alternative sources of energy, such as ethanol, and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars in a bid to recapture the high ground from leading Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Bill Ford is a longtime champion of environmental causes, [blah-blah-blah]
One of the last things Bill Ford, Jr. did before he "retired" in September was bail on his commitment to make 250,000 hybrids by 2010.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...606290380/1148
 
  #6  
Old 11-15-2006, 09:17 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

I dont think we will see a big push into hybrids from Ford soon. Ford are almost bankrupt and cant do anything to hurt their bottome line. They make a big profit on gas only SUVs and little or nothing on their hybrid. So by pushing the hybrid they are steering an explorer buyer into an escape hybrid with a big loss in revenue. I think Ford know that the escape sales would come at the expense of their other models.

Gas hog SUVs are still evry popular - and Americans still love them - take a look at the October sales numbers - the hottest selling vehicles are Suburbans and F150s again.

I know in the long run Ford only hope is by offering vehicles more like what Honda and Toyota have but in the enar term they are not in a position to give up any revenue. The risk of all out bankrupcy in the near term is far greater than the threat of the wrong long term strategy.

http://www.thecarconnection.com/Auto...75.A11044.html
 
  #7  
Old 11-15-2006, 10:05 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

There are Federal rules as to what the minimum average MPG of a car manufacturer's fleet must achieve.

By selling one FEH that exceeds the minimum MPG ( by a lot ) Ford can sell 4 or 5 gas hogs that miss the mark ( by a little ) and still have a good average.
So there IS incentive to sell hybrids, even at zero profit margin.

Have you seen the Honda ad that says "World's most fuel efficient car company."
Due in large part to the 66 MPG Insight. But only a few 1000 Insights have been sold.

Certain "Heavy Duty" and commercial vehicles are exempt from the average.
 
  #8  
Old 11-15-2006, 10:27 AM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

Not to support anything that leans away from hybrids, but if you had the best-selling vehicle in the world for 23 years and the best-selling truck in the USA for 28 years, and it was a gas guzzler (Ford F-150), you too would be hard pressed to walk away from that cash cow... especially when you need a cash HERD, and that single cash cow isn't proving sufficient to keep you out of the red.

full disclosure: We're a family with one Ford F-150 (paid off) and a 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid. So I'm on both sides of their bottom line.
 
  #9  
Old 11-21-2006, 01:48 PM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

From what I read, they saw how well the stratagy was paying off for GM to sell "flex-fuel" trucks that don't get any better real world mileage, but the EPA gives them some fictionaly high CAFE rating because the ethanol portion of the rating system skews the number irrationally high. This means that while GM has not really increased their real world CAFE, they are given credit for raising it and don't have to sell as many non profit generating cars.

Ford is just following suit, and focusing on the ethanol crowd where the investment is low to convert the current engines into E85 compatable while raising the CAFE number in turn.

IMO, it is a crummy strategy, but as long as the rating system works like it does, we won't see it change.
 
  #10  
Old 11-24-2006, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: Ford Hybrid Production to Rise

Ford dumped the 250k plan a while ago.

I suspect Mary Ann Wright knew this was BS from the start and that was one reason she really left.
 

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