Ford's director of hybrid programs, Nancy Gioia delivered a speech at the Automotive News World Congress, in Dearborn and revealed that Ford is considering building a plug-in hybrid vehicle. So far, Ford's hybrid efforts have been limited to the Escape/Mariner/Tribute, although a Fusion hybrid is under development and should be available some time in 2008.
As usual, the main problem is the battery. According to Gioia, the extra cost of the lithium ion battery could be prohibitive unless additional tax credits are made available. A LiIon battery is a necessity in order to get sufficient range to justify the extra complexity of the plug-in architecture. Ford showed a plug-in series hybrid, the Airstream concept at the Detroit Auto Show although, unlike the Chevy Volt, it uses a hydrogen fuel cell instead of an internal combustion engine.

A Ford spokesman confirmed that Ford has been actively testing a variety of plug-in hybrid vehicles with different configurations and platforms for some time including the HyDrive system that underpins the Airstream concept. However, until a suitable battery can be found, Ford won't be committing to a production date or platform.

[Source: Automotive News - subscription required]

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