US:Ford expects record month in hybrid sales
Ford expects record month in hybrid sales
High gas prices boost April figures
SARAH A. WEBSTER
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
When Ford Motor Co. reports today how many cars and trucks it sold in April, the Dearborn-based automaker is expected to post its best-ever sales month for hybrids -- thanks, in part, to rising gas prices.
Auto-industry experts say rising gas prices last month probably dampened overall auto sales, including those at Ford, but they seem to have given a boost to some fuel-efficient models like hybrids.
Ford sells gas-electric versions of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner. The small SUVs get about 35 miles per gallon in the city, making them about 80% more efficient than a regular, gasoline-powered V-6 Escape.
April sales of Ford hybrid vehicles are expected to be up more than 50% compared with April 2005, before the Mariner hybrid went on sale, according to preliminary sales results Ford released on Monday. That would represent a 74% increase from March.
Ford said it sold nearly 2,800 hybrids for the year through April, bringing the automaker one small step closer to meeting its goal of selling 250,000 hybrids a year by 2010.
Aside from rising gas prices, Ford also credits the boost in hybrid sales to government incentives on hybrids and increasing consumer awareness of fuel-efficient vehicles, which Ford has been featuring in corporate advertisements since October and in a marketing campaign with Kermit the Frog since February.
The vehicles also had help from a new discount program. On April 4, after a pilot program in Washington, D.C., and California, Ford introduced no-interest financing for up to 60 months on the Escape and Mariner hybrids, which are priced between $26,900 and $29,225.
"We had such a positive, strong reaction to that," Mark Kaufman, Ford's SUV marketing manager, said. "It essentially equalized out the two versions of the Escape. ... Both the Escape and Escape hybrid had a good sales month for the month of April."
Despite the sales increase, Ford still has plenty of hybrid Escapes and Mariners -- about 3,900 -- left in stock.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....