Ford Motor Company plan to mass-produce the 2003 Escape HEV, a concept vehicle that uses both electrical power and a 4-cylinder petrol engine. The vehicle will debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
The electric drivetrain is used at lower speeds, up to 20 miles per hour. It is also said to allow the gasoline engine to shut down when idling, then start back up automatically.
Additionally, the electric motor augments the gas engine when accelerating at higher speeds and helps capture braking energy for the vehicle’s battery. The gasoline engine operates automatically at higher speeds.
Because the electric motor is used more frequently for lower speeds, it makes the Escape HEV fuel-efficient for urban driving, delivering up to 40 miles per gallon.
The Escape HEV is also supposed to get 40 mpg in motorway driving, whilst standard Escapes, equipped with 4-cylinder engines, will get 28 mpg on the motorway and 23 mpg in urban driving.
The only other carmaker to announce a hybrid sport-utility is DaimlerChrysler, which in October 2000 announced plans to launch a Dodge Durango hybrid in 2003. That Durango will get an average of 18.6 mpg.
Ford will make the Escape HEV on the same assembly line as the standard Escape at its Kansas City plant and Ford says it will make ‘thousands’ of the hybrids, although a definitive figure has yet to be announced.