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Old 03-08-2002, 03:18   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Rocklyn
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Ford: Late '03 For Hybrid Escape

The hybrid-engine vehicle segment won a major, if belated, endorsement at
the SAE World Congress in Detroit Wednesday when Ford announced a
late-2003 debut plan for its long-gestating hybrid Escape SUV. Taking a
shot at the sales numbers for hybrid pioneers Honda and Toyota, Escape
hybrid-engine project chief Prabhakar Patil said that Ford is looking at
"tens of thousands" of annual sales for the electric-gas vehicle. It won't
be a niche entry, Patil added, referring to the light sales for the only
hybrid cars sold to date - the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. But Patil
disappointed expectant Ford dealers by confirming a launch delay until the
2004 model year. The hybrid Escape had been targeted for this coming fall,
and the delay attests to a cautious Ford introduction pattern stemming
from early recalls and production delay problems on such recent Ford
models as Focus and Thunderbird. Patil said the Escape SUV would be priced
at about $25,000. It would be helped on the market, he added, if Congress
enacts a $3000 tax incentive for hybrid-car purchases, as President Bush
proposed last month.- Mac Gordon
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