Luke Ottaway's picture

Ford sources leak plans for all-new hybrid with plug-in variant

Ford tried to compete with the Toyota Prius once before when it introduced the hybrid C-Max to the United States. It looks like the Blue Oval is ready to give it another go.

It’s no secret that Ford is committed to developing hybrid electric vehicles. The Blue Oval has preferred plug-in versions of its existing hybrids over the pure battery electric variety, but it especially takes great pride in its Fusion and C-Max hybrids and has invested heavily in development of future electrified models.

Further evidence of this commitment came this week when two sources within Ford disclosed to Reuters the company’s plans for an all-new “dedicated” compact hybrid slated for 2018.

An entirely new vehicle

Rather than the Fusion or C-Max hybrids, simply adaptations of legacy gasoline models, this new compact car will be created to be exclusively a hybrid. Perhaps taking a page from the book of Prius, the 2018 Ford will likely be offered in multiple body styles and also will offer a plug-in version with a larger battery.

Though the new vehicle will be a dedicated hybrid, it still will share Ford’s new compact C2 architecture with future Focus and Escape models, the sources said.

InsideEVs is of the opinion that Ford will opt to not introduce a totally new nameplate, but rather will build hybrid and plug-in versions of both the Focus and Escape. Given the emphasis on “dedicated” hybrid, however, the sources seem to insist otherwise.

Interestingly, the sources indicated the company intends to build these vehicles in Wayne, Michigan at an expected volume of 120,000 per year.

How many will come with a plug?

Though we commend hybrid vehicles for their fuel efficiency, and the upcoming Ford compact hybrid will certainly achieve some impressive fuel economy numbers as technology improves, we here on the Torque News electric vehicles page are most interested in the plug-in variety.

For perspective, the current Fusion has sold 31,092 hybrid models through July compared to 7,641 Energi plug-in versions. The current C-Max has moved 11,685 hybrid models through July and 4,759 copies of the Energi.

These totals equate to about 20% and 29%, respectively, of Ford hybrid sales that are the Energi plug-ins. If the ratio were to hold, with a capacity of 120,000 vehicles per year of the new compact hybrid we could see 24,000 to 35,000 annual sales from its Energi variant. That is Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF territory.

It will be interesting to see if and how the ratio of hybrids to plug-ins changes with the upcoming vehicle. Ford will likely have to invest significantly in battery production to accommodate those kinds of volumes. We won’t know for sure until Ford officially confirms any speculation, which won’t be for a while. What we can be sure of is that the Blue Oval is taking its electrification efforts very seriously moving forward.


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