Fleet News

Ford Group plans hybrids

FORD has announced plans to develop new hybrid models for Europe on the same day that the company ditched an ambitious target to produce a quarter of a million hybrids a year for the North American market.

Along with its Swedish brand Volvo, Ford will set up a dedicated research department in Gothenburg to investigate and produce hybrid technology to be applied to not only Volvo models but also Ford cars and models from its Premier Automotive Group (Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover) around the world.

News of the plan was revealed at the same time as Ford chairman Bill Ford sent an email to all of his staff worldwide announcing that his ambition to develop hybrid models for America was being shelved.

Last autumn he pledged that Ford would be building 250,000 hybrid models, mainly SUVs, a year for the North American market by 2010.

Now Ford has said the firm will invest in other clean fuel technologies such as bioethanol, biodiesel and cleaner diesels. When Ford announced the plan, he believed that hybrids were the only way to lower emissions, but claims that in the nine months since he made the pledge other green fuel technologies had become more viable.

The new centre in Sweden will concentrate on hybrid models for the European market, which will eventually join Ford’s existing bioethanol Flexi-Fuel models such as the Focus FFV.

Volvo president Fredrik Arp, said: ‘The hybrid cars of tomorrow will be more sophisticated and much further developed compared with what we see on the road today.

‘And it is likely that we will find high-performance hybrids run-ning on diesel and renewable fuels.’

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