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Old 08-09-2002, 06:52   #1 (permalink)
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Hybrid Escape: High hopes, many questions

By Amy Wilson
Automotive News

Ford Motor Co. plans to produce tens of thousands of hybrid Escapes after the alternative powertrain sport wagon debuts next year.

Ford's environmental engineering chief said the automaker wouldn't have a precise volume forecast until the gasoline-electric vehicle goes on sale.

Customer perception of hybrids and the availability of federal tax credits for buyers will determine sales, said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering.

"It probably will be more expensive," she said. "We haven't really decided the pricing scheme yet for the Escape. But we do know, compared to the base Escape, there's more money in that vehicle."

Ford CEO Bill Ford said Wednesday that while he is bullish on the hybrid Escape, the company must consider that it may not sell as expected.

Ford Motor views the hybrid Escape as a pilot for alternative powertrain vehicles, Cischke said, and market response will help the automaker shape hybrid programs.

The purchase may make more sense for urban drivers as the vehicle is expected to get up to 40 mpg in the city.

The production site for the hybrid Escape is under consideration, Cischke said.

The conventional Escape is assembled in Kansas City, Mo.
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