click the photo to see a 30+ high-resolution photos of the 2008 Escape Hybrid and more

If it was just a normal Friday for you today, then you're not an employee at Ford's Kansas City assembly plant, where the new 2008 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner models started production today. Both the Escape and the Mariner will be available in hybrid versions, but even the non-hybrid SUVs will be more fuel-efficient than earlier models. Ford says that mileage rates on the gas-powered versions will increase by two miles per gallon and the hybrid versions get three miles more per gallon. The vehicles will be available a little later in the year.

Ford prez and CEO Alan Mulally said in a speech to workers during the opening that, "Customers want products with striking designs, better fuel efficiency and even better value," and that these hybrid SUVs offer those choices. Ford certainly must be hoping customers take to these vehicles, especially after yesterday's record losses announcement. Ford spent $100 million updating the Kansas City plant to get ready to make the new Escape and Mariner.

Click on the thumbnails above to see a high-resolution (1,280 pixel wide) image gallery of the 2008 Escape. The images are downloadable for your personal use.

[Source: Ford]

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