As you may know, Ford announced its intentions to step up its hybrid production.
Here's what Jason Mark, the director of UCS' Clean Vehicle Program, had to say about it:
Ford's announcement today that it will increase hybrid sales to 250,000 by 2010 is welcome news for consumers and the environment. The days of cheap gas are likely behind us, so the company's investments in fuel-sipping technologies is wise planning. For a company struggling for its economic survival, their hybrid investment makes good business sense as well as environmental sense. Ford's road to recovery is paved with hybrids and other clean car technologies.
250,000 hybrids is about 8-9 percent of the company's current US sales. Toyota announced last month plans to make 25 percent of its US sales hybrid by decade's end and roughly a million worldwide (they are currently on track to sell about 250,000 this year). Toyota has clearly demonstrated that mainstream buyers are ready for hybrids, and Ford has clearly recognized the market demand for fuel economy. Time will tell whether Ford continues to use hybrid technology for its fuel economy potential, as it has for the hybrid Escape, or begins to veer onto the path worn by GM and Chrysler to offer "half-hearted" hybrids that use the technology to boost performance, not fuel economy.
UCS estimates that, if Ford uses hybrid technology to boost fuel economy by 50 percent for its average vehicle, matching the gains of its Escape, the 250,000 cars will save half a billion gallons of gasoline over their lifetimes, and more than $1.5 billion at the pump (at $2.50/gallon).
Also in Ford's announcement today is a commitment to produce more ethanol-capable 'flexible fuel' vehicles. With fewer than 400 ethanol stations in the entire country, it will be important for them to follow through on plans to promote ethanol sales. Otherwise, their increased flexible fuel vehicle sales will actually exacerbate our oil dependence. That's because, under loopholes in current federal fuel economy rules, Ford gets extra credit for every flexible fuel vehicle it sells, regardless of whether it's powered by ethanol. For example, a flex-fuel Ford Explorer rated at 20 mpg is counted under federal rules as getting 33 mpg. Up to 1.2 mpg of an automakers' fuel economy obligation can be met through this loophole. The net result: 80,000 barrels per day more oil use today across the industry.
Posted by: ScottN