Ford Motor Company will reportedly reintroduce a hybrid version of the Ford Escape crossover sometime in 2019, this time as a plug-in, as the automaker continues expanding its range of fuel-sipping electrified vehicles. According to Automotive News, the new Ford Escape PHEV will be accompanied by a plug-in-hybrid Lincoln MKC, and hybrid versions of the full-size Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, together representing four of Ford’s 13 planned future electrified vehicles.
Another seven of the 13 were announced back in January, 2017, including vehicles like a hybrid Ford Mustang, hybrid F-150, two hybrid police vehicles, and a battery-electric crossover that will premiere the company’s forthcoming self-driving technology.
Ford’s plans are decidedly less ambitious than those made by crosstown rival General Motors, which last month announced plans to bring out 20 new battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles by 2023. “They’re at a critical point in their strategy, and that’s trying to balance today and tomorrow,” LMC Automotive Senior VP of Forecasting Jeff Schuster told Automotive News. “You don’t want to go all in on EVs at this point because that’s not going to pay the bills and keep the lights on today, but you also don’t want to get behind.”
Ford had said previously that for now, it plans to bring out electrification only where it adds significant value. In the case of the forthcoming Mustang and F-150 hybrid models, each stands to gain considerable performance from the addition of a torquey electric drive motor. With regard to Ford’s crossovers and SUVs, the market is large and still growing, enlarging the pool of potential customers. A hybrid version of the Ford Escape was offered from 2004 to 2009, but the automaker ended up pulling the plug on the model due to slow sales.
But that was then; this is now. Today, Ford is the second-largest producer of hybrid vehicles in the US, after Toyota. The automaker has yet to introduce a pure, battery-electric vehicle outside of the limited-range Ford Focus Electric, but with $4.5 billion set aside for investment in electrified vehicles by 2020, the automaker clearly isn’t blind to the role drivetrain electrification will play.