Ford goes green in the UK

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Ford announced this week that it is to invest £1bn in Britain over the next six years to develop fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

The sum represents a significant portion of Ford’s $8bn a year global R&D budget and is mostly re-allocated from other projects. Planned investments, which included new models based on existing vehicles, have been delayed or scrapped to free up ‘green’ spending.

The company is reportedly aiming to produce a Focus capable of delivering 70 miles per US gallon with reduced CO2 emissions.

The money will be spent at Ford’s Dagenham, Dunton, Gaydon and Whitley plants in the UK, with the focus on improving traditional petrol and diesel engines and lowering the weight of cars through advanced materials.

Ford announced last month that it has scrapped a commitment made in September 2005 by CEO Bill Ford to halve the number of petrol-electric hybrid engines in the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury line up by 2010. The target of 250,000 hybrids a year would have been 10 times the number that Ford was building at the time.

Ford currently sells the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid sport utility vehicles. The company also plans to introduce hybrid versions of the Mazda Tribute SUV in 2007 and Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan saloons in 2008.