September 21, 2005

Ford to Increase Production of Hybrid Vehicles

DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co., the No. 2 U.S. automaker, will boost global production of hybrid vehicles tenfold by 2010, Chief Executive Bill Ford said on Wednesday.

At that time, more than half of the company's Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars and light trucks will have hybrid capability, Bill Ford said during a meeting at a research lab here with company scientists and engineers.

He also said Ford will have the capability to build about 250,000 hybrid vehicles in that year with the ability to boost that. Ford currently makes about 24,000 hybrid vehicles annually.

The CEO also said the automaker will launch four vehicles in 2006 that will run largely on ethanol, a corn-based fuel, raising the output of vehicles that can operate with more than just gasoline in 2006 to as many as 280,000 units.

The company also will launch a new corporate advertising campaign in the fall with the theme of innovation, Bill Ford said. The company did not say how much it will spend in the campaign.

"(Innovation) will be the lens through which we view our budgets and our capital investments, our people and programs, and the way in which we rank our most essential priorities," the CEO said in a statement.

Ford builds the Escape hybrid sport utility vehicle and will begin production this year of the Mariner hybrid, the Mercury version of the Escape.

By 2008, the Detroit-based company said it will have five hybrid vehicles on the road, including the Escape, Mariner and Mazda Tribute SUVs, all based on the same platform, or vehicle underpinnings. The other two will be the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan mid-sized sedans.