Exclusive: Ford plans new hybrid series to compete with Toyota Prius - sources

Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:25pm EDT
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co F.N plans to introduce a new hybrid gasoline-electric car in late 2018 to compete against the best-selling Toyota Prius, two sources with knowledge of the company's plans told Reuters on Wednesday.

The compact car will be Ford's first "dedicated" hybrid - that is a vehicle designed to be marketed exclusively as a hybrid, rather than a variation of an existing gasoline model, such as the automaker's Fusion hybrid, the sources said. The as-yet-unnamed vehicle will be built just outside Detroit, .

The sources said Ford eventually could offer several different body styles of the new hybrid, as Toyota does with the Prius. There would be different versions of the car's gasoline-electric drivetrain, including a more expensive plug-in model that can be recharged from an electrical outlet.

The new Ford hybrid is expected to arrive as a 2019 model, roughly 21 years after the introduction of the original Prius in Japan. Toyota is planning to unveil its fourth-generation Prius late next year, the sources said.

Ford spokesman Chris Preuss on Wednesday said the company doesn't comment on speculation about future products.

Ford plans to build the new hybrid at its Wayne assembly plant in southeastern Michigan, at an annual rate of about 120,000, the sources said.

Some of the hybrid technology, including electric motors, controllers and batteries, will be adapted from Ford's current hybrid models, although the dedicated 2019 model is expected to provide better fuel economy and range than today's hybrids.

The 2019 model, which carries the internal code C240, will be built on Ford's new C2 global compact architecture, which also will underpin the next-generation Focus and Escape, the sources said.   Continued...

A woman has a drink as she walks past a logo of carmaker Ford at the entrance to a media event in Sydney August 13, 2013.  REUTERS/Daniel Munoz