2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery
On several occasions in the past, Ford Motor Company execs have reiterated the company's stance on electrified vehicles, saying that 25 percent of its global sales in 2020 will come courtesy of vehicles that feature battery power. Even the company's director of global electrification, Nancy Gioia, stood behind this assertion, stating:
Ford's interest in battery-powered vehicles and, more specifically, its hybrid-heavy lineup, indicates that the company believes gas-electric technology is a core part of the brand. This fall, the Lincoln MKZ hybrid will bolster Ford's lineup of gas-electric vehicles and also become the first hybrid that doesn't command a price hike over its gasoline counterpart. With all of this in mind, the words of Ford's vice president of global marketing, Jim Farley, seem quite damning. Farley recently told Automotive News, "You can't sell a hybrid in today's market." Farley's admission even includes the MKZ hybrid, which is odd. Automotive News writer Jamie LaReau recounts the rooftop conversation with Farley that took place during the MKZ's unveiling:We have now embedded electrification...including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, any vehicle where electricity directly displaces oil or a liquid fuel...This is strategic. This is not just an image vehicle, or an image technology. It's not a science experiment. It is embedded into the fabric of our company, along with other technologies...Long term we see electrification as part of the fuel diversity plan going forward.
Farley said because gas prices are low, buyers are less willing to pay the so-called "hybrid premium" when the cost of gasoline remains consistently low. Even with the Lincoln MKZ hybrid's price parity, the reality is that its base price is $35,180, still beyond the means of many buyers in today's cash-strapped economy.When I reminded Farley he's about to launch a hybrid, he calmly acknowledged that Ford expects to sell 10,000 or so MKZ hybrids -- even though Lincoln won't charge a premium for the sedan's gas-electric powertrain. Ford is launching the car because it's the smart thing to do and it rounds out the product lineup.