Ford Hybrid Plan Beyond 2008 Still Unclear

by : Lauren Woods

Ford Canada recently insisted that they are still in the process of preparing the Oakville plant for the production of hybrid versions of two crossover SUVs. The announcement came after Ford indicated that they have already abandoned the plan for producing hybrid versions of the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX.

The Canadian arm of the Dearborn-based car manufacturer also announced that the production of the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX Hybrids will commence by 2010. Ford Canada also denied that its parent company has scrapped the plan entirely.

"Nothing has changed on Edge and MKX, which we announced a while ago to be hybrid versions," says Lauren More, Ford Canada's vice president for public affairs. "Those plans remain in place and on track," More pointed out.

FoMoCo, on the other hand, kept mum about the announcement from Ford Canada. "We're not going to confirm anything beyond that," said Jennifer Moore, a spokesperson for the Ford Motor Company.

It can be remembered that Ford announced in early 2006 that they are planning to produce hybrid versions of the Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX at the Oakville assembly facility. During the announcement though, Ford declined to set a date when the production of the hybrid crossovers will commence.

The production of hybrid vehicles for Ford is part of its turnaround plan to bring the company back to profitability. The demand for fuel efficient and environment friendly vehicles has been increasing and by providing car buyers with what they want, Ford hopes to generate substantial profit. Last year, the company posted a loss of $12.7 billion - the most that it has lost in its lengthy history.

Talks about the cancellation of the production of the crossover hybrids surfaced after a source commented that Bill Ford backpedaled on his pledge to produce 250,000 hybrid vehicles before the turn of the decade. The company chairman was quoted to have saying that the goal is "too narrow" for the company to achieve its ultimate goal of protecting the environment. Hybrid vehicles consume less fuel and produce less greenhouse gas.

According to the source, it is Ford's decision that the company focus instead on the development of engines that will run on alternative fuels. Common alternative fuels being developed today as substitute to petroleum fuels are ethanol, hydrogen and biodiesel. These alternative fuels are cleaner than petroleum fuels and came from renewable resources. "Our strategy going forward is not to wed ourselves to a single technology," said Ford.

While the production of the hybrid Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX are still in question, Ford announced that they will be pushing through with the production of the Ford Fusion and the Mercury Milan Hybrids. The hybrid versions of the sedans will be produced starting this fall. The company previously introduced the Ford Escape Hybrid in 2004.

Ford shifting its focus on the development of vehicles with alternative fuel capability means that the vehicles they have planned with a hybrid version will be put on hold. This development if it is indeed true would mean that a version of the MKX with better fuel efficiency than a -equipped gasoline MKX would be put off indefinitely.

But if Ford is shifting its focus on the development of alternative fuel-powered vehicle means that they are still committed to the production of environment friendly vehicles.