One of the concerns people have about hybrid vehicles is the durability of the complex drivetrains. Ford is helping to put some of that concern to rest. Less than two years ago a fleet of eighteen Escape Hybrids joined the ranks of New York City taxis. In that short span of time each one of them has now completed over 175,000 miles of service and saved an estimated $250,000 in fuel costs. If a vehicle can survive the constant stop and go traffic of New York city streets while accumulating the same mileage as an average driver collects in 11 years, it's probably doing okay.

Check Ford's press release after the jump.

[Source: Ford]



1. Ford Leads Police Market in Sales, Durability and Protection: The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has earned more than 80 percent of the police vehicle market because it offers a superior combination of durability, value and widespread availability of special equipment for law enforcement, such as factory-installed ballistic door panels. These panels, made from ceramic composite, offer unmatched protection to law officers as a tactical shield. Recently, the supplier of the panels, Protective Products International Corporation, announced that it will market the ballistic panels for retrofit to 1998 model year through current model year Police Interceptors.

2. Ford Escape Hybrids Top 175,000 miles: Ford Escape Hybrids have been proving the durability and fuel-saving potential of Ford's full hybrid technology as New York City taxis since 2005. Today, each of the 18 vehicles that were part of the first wave have been driven about 175,000 miles, yielding fuel savings of close to $250,000 for the fleet. The mileage is equivalent to 11 years of driving by an average consumer. The 2008 Escape Hybrid went into production in January and features a new bold design, engineering refinements and even better real world fuel economy than the original model, thanks to improved powertrain controls, electric power steering and other improvements.

3. Ford SUVs Lead in KBB Study: A joint survey from Brand Watch and Kelley Blue Book shows that among non-luxury SUV shoppers, Ford products rank the highest in terms of stylishness, layout/design and versatility/flexibility. The Ford Explorer, Expedition and Escape have all adopted exterior styling that draws inspiration from Ford's "Built Ford Tough" pickups. All of them also benefit from the ride, handling and interior package benefits of independent rear suspensions (IRS). In Explorer and Expedition, the extra space the IRS allows makes their third row seats best in class, and the power-folding option remains a Ford exclusive. In areas such as safety, where the Toyota brand was top ranked, the advantage may be in perception, not reality. For example, the Toyota 4Runner has earned double 4-star ratings in NHTSA frontal impact crash tests while the Ford Explorer has earned double 5-stars. In addition, Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control system, which is standard on Ford Escape, Explorer and Expedition, is the only stability control system that actually measures roll using a gyroscopic roll rate sensor.

4. Ford Years Ahead of Government Safety Rules: This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to announce new rules that will require automakers to make electronic stability control systems like Ford's AdvanceTrac standard equipment. Last September, the agency proposed that the feature be phased in for passenger cars and light trucks between 2008 and 2011. Ford is already well ahead of the curve. All Ford, Lincoln and Mercury retail cars and trucks will receive standard electronic stability control by the end of 2009. Ford vehicles that have AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control as standard equipment today include the Ford Explorer, Expedition, Edge, Escape and Taurus X. Lincoln Mercury products include the Mercury Mariner and Mountaineer, the Lincoln Navigator and the Lincoln MKX. AdvanceTrac will be optional on the 2008 Ford Focus and Taurus, as well as the Mercury Sable.

5. Names Ford Five Hundred a Top Pick for Seniors: The automotive web site says the Ford Five Hundred is one of its top picks for senior citizens, thanks to a wealth of standard features and options that make driving easier, safer and more comfortable. Highlights they cited include: heated driver seat, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with manual-adjustable lumbar support and memory settings for two drivers, a spacious cabin, tall seating position, height-adjustable driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors, available all-wheel drive, excellent visibility, outstanding crash test scores and the largest trunk in its class.

6. Consumers Equate Quiet with Quality: Vehicles are getting quieter, according to J.D. Power & Associates, which has seen a 36 percent decrease in wind noise complaints since 2003. Ford has been aggressively reducing wind and road noise in its vehicles, and new Ford products are not only quieter than many competitors, some are now quieter than luxury vehicles. For example, the web site says that the Ford Explorer Limited V-8 is significantly quieter than both the Nissan Pathfinder and Xterra, and noticeably quieter than the Lexus GX470 in most measures. Explorer is even quieter on the highway than the Mercedes-Benz ML350.
7. Ford Mobile-Ease and Ford Sync Will Tap the Growing Awareness of Bluetooth Wireless Technology : A study released last week by research firm Millward Brown has found that consumer awareness of Bluetooth technology, the global standard in short-range wireless communications, has jumped to 74 percent in the U.S. from just 58 percent in 2005. A total of 356 different companies qualified 993 new Bluetooth-equipped products in 2006, up 20 percent from 2005. Today, Ford and Lincoln Mercury offer a dealer-installed featured called "Mobile-Ease" which allows drivers to use their Bluetooth-equipped wireless phones hands-free, with calls piped through the vehicle's audio system. The system retails for $399 (MSRP) plus installation. Some 22,000 have been sold to date. This fall, Ford will launch an even more advanced technology called Ford Sync to dramatically expand in-car communications and entertainment options. Ford Sync uses Bluetooth, advanced voice recognition and text-to-speech software, a USB port and other features to control wireless phones, MP3 players and other devices through the vehicle's steering wheel or audio system controls.

8. Ford "Best Bets" in Used Vehicles : Ford and Mercury products rank prominently in the list of "Used Car Best Bets" for the 1999-2004 model years compiled by The 1999-2004 Ford F-150 was the top-ranked pickup, thanks to "a huge variety of cab styles and trim levels, a comfortable interior with sound ergonomics, a compliant ride, communicative and precise steering, smooth power plants and best-in-class brakes." The 2002-2004 Ford Explorer was the top-ranked SUV, with Edmunds writing that "the complete redesign of the Explorer in 2002 brought a wealth of improvements in the areas of passenger accommodations, safety, comfort and utility." The 1999-2004 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis were described as "basically bullet-proof" but also "very comfortable to ride in, (with) plenty of luggage capacity, cheap to keep in light of their low maintenance requirements and commendable fuel efficiency (highway ratings are as high as 25 mpg). They also have very good crash test scores."

9. Most Powerful Production Mustangs: With 540 hp, the 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR (King of the Road) will be the most powerful production Mustang ever when it goes on sale in early 2008. The four most powerful Mustangs for the street are 2) 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 – 5.4-liter supercharged V-8, 500 hp; 3) 2003 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra – 4.6-liter supercharged V-8, 390 hp; 4) 2000 Ford SVT Mustang Cobra R – 5.4-liter V-8, 385 hp; and 5) 1969-70 Ford Mustang Boss 420 – 429 cubic inch V-8, 375 hp.

10. Mercury Taps "Titanic" Special Effects Team for Mariner Ads: TV commercials for the 2008 Mercury Mariner hit the airwaves this month with captivating 3-D images created by top technology talent from Hollywood. Tight Films and The Brothers Strause, whose most recent credits include the critically acclaimed movie, "300," researched particle and fluid movement and developed their own computer code to create the special effects seen in all three Mariner TV commercials now on cable and network TV throughout the spring. The Hollywood team, which collaborated closely with Mercury ad agency Y&R, also is known for their award-winning special effects

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