While the automotive industry as a whole saw a 14% decline in hybrid car sales, Ford Motor Company saw sales of its hybrid vehicles increase by 78% in September. The increase is primarily attributed to Ford’s introduction of the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids last month. In addition to brisk consumer sales, both models have been adopted by a number of taxicab companies and governmental agencies.
According to Autodata, Ford sold a total of 26,016 hybrid vehicles last month. However, overall sales for the month were down 6%. In July, Ford’s sales increased 2% over their June totals and in August, bolstered by the Cash for Clunkers program, sales soared up 17% month-to-month.
According to Ford, over 60% of its Fusion hybrid sales have been to new converts who had previously not been Ford customers. The automaker claims that over half were former import auto owners, primarily of Toyota and Honda models. The Fusion and Milan hybrid models deliver an EPA estimated 41 mpg city / 36 mpg highway. Another popular model, the hybrid Escape, delivers an EPA estimated 34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway, making it the most fuel efficient SUV on the market today.
Ford has made major inroads into the coveted fleet sales sector with its hybrid models. The Ford Escape hybrid now accounts for 14% of the taxi fleet vehicles in New York and San Francisco. Of approximately 13,237 hybrid taxis on the streets of New York, 2,000 are Ford Escapes. The original 15 Escape hybrids deployed to taxi fleets in 2005 averaged 300,000 miles before being retired. Along with Ford’s Escape hybrid, Nissan’s Altima and Toyota’s gas-electric hybrid Prius have also been heavily adopted for use in New York City taxi fleets.
Ford’s fleet marketing manager, Gerry Koss said, “We’re extremely pleased with the performance of the Escape Hybrid in taxi service. Not only have they proven very reliable, they’ve also saved taxi drivers money on gas and contributed to lower tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions in the cities that use them in taxi fleets.”
The federal government has purchased 3,000 Ford hybrids this year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded the purchase of 1,900 of the vehicles. Ford has also sold 400 Fusion hybrids to the United States Army, and Los Angeles County now has 45 Escape hybrids in use as lifeguard rescue patrol vehicles. The county claims a 25%, 5,000 gallon, fuel savings during the first six months of using the Fusion hybrids.
Speaking Ford’s new Director of Global Electrification, Nancy Gioia says, “We’ve finally demonstrated the technology, the life, the durability, the safety (of hybrids)–all of that has reached a comfort zone to make it viable. Now it’s going to be affordability that will drive mass market adoption.”