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The last time we quoted Ford's vice president of global marketing, Jim Farley, he uttered something like, "You can't sell a hybrid in today's market." Those words poured from Farley's mouth as he spoke with Automotive News writer Jamie LaReau in a candid rooftop conversation that took place during the unveiling of the Lincoln MKZ hybrid. Farley suggested that hybrids, with inherently higher price tags than conventional vehicles, would represent nothing more than a minor fraction of the market for years to come. Now, Ford's VP offers up a different take on the same subject.
Farley's recent conversation with the Detroit News points to the possibility that buyers will be willing to spend more for increased fuel efficiency. This time around, Farley's words came out like this:
Farley wasn't talking hybrids. Instead, the focus had turned to Ford's plans to make Ecoboost engines the core powertrain across its model lineup. Apparently, Ford sees a substantial market for Ecoboost engines and believes that buyers will be willing to pay a premium for a mill that, though smaller and less powerful than other engines in the stable, offers increased fuel economy of about five miles per gallon. Here's the kicker: the Lincoln MKZ hybrid costs no more than its conventional sibling, whereas Ecoboost engines command a price premium.Consumers know tomorrow they could wake up and gas could be $4 a gallon. The uncertainty about fuel prices has changed the mindset of customers.