Car Buyers to Ford: Show Us The Hybrids!

While Ford is having trouble getting hybrids to American buyers, in the UK, Ford cars average 20-40 mpg more than their US counterparts.

Published: 16-Dec-2005

PHOTO: Ford Mondeo, available only in Europe, averages 46 mpg

San Francisco- Inspired by Ford's latest round of "green" TV advertisements hyping hybrids, car buyers in Bloomington, IN and Houston, TX headed to their local Ford dealer recorded their experience on video. The videos show that little has changed since Ford released its first gasoline- powered hybrid in August 2004. Dealers had only received a total of two hybrid Escapes.

Ford's announcement this week to begin production on a new super-size SUV, an extra-long version of the Ford Expedition, coupled with new research revealing that Ford cars built in Europe average 20-40 mpg more than their US counterparts raise questions about Ford's continued failure to meet consumer demand for American, union-made, fuel-efficient cars.

The Indiana video captures the frustration of a salesman unable to meet initial high demand for Ford hybrids. When asked how long it would take to order a hybrid, the Bloomington dealer replies with a grim "eight months.." Standard new car order takes six weeks.

The Houston video includes a test drive in one of the dealers' two hybrids. During the drive, the dealer serves as a gas-guzzling guide through the Ford lot highlighting a range of Ford cars which average 19.1 mpg, dead last among American automakers.

In September 2005 Ford promised to "increase global hybrid production ten-fold, to approximately 250,000 annually by 2010" by offering a limited line-up of optional gasoline-powered hybrid engines. Ford's projected 2010 hybrid production numbers represent just half of the 500,000 units Toyota plans to produce in 2006 and less than 3.5 percent of the 7 million cars that Ford produces annually.

The consumers with cameras would have had better luck if they had left Bloomington and headed to London, where cars get between 20 and 40 mpg more than in the US. A car-by-car comparison shows that the exact same car, the Ford Fusion for example, will get 20-40 mpg more in Europe than in the US (see chart below).

Supporting Statements
"The experience of Ford dealers and potential consumers in these videos further documents the discrepancy between Ford's rhetoric and Ford's reality," says Mike Hudema, a Jumpstart Ford campaigner with Global Exchange. "It is time for Ford to start giving consumers, dealers, and this country what we want and so desperately need- an entire fleet of vastly more fuel-efficient cars."

"Ford is selling America short by failing to meet consumer demand for cars that would be both cheaper to operate and better for the earth," said Jennifer Krill, Zero Emissions Campaign Director with Rainforest Action Network. "Customers are clamoring for hybrids and Ford's dealers have none to sell them. The information age is empowering consumers to make conscious choices and hold corporations accountable for their claims. Americans are learning about Ford's comparable European models like the Ford Focus. which gets almost twice the gas mileage of its American counterpart. As a result, American consumers aren't buying the hype and they're not buying Ford's cars."

Ford United Kingdom Ford USA
Model MPG Model MPG
Ford Focus 49.6 urban/57.6 extra urban Ford Focus 26 City/34 hwy
Ford Fusion 61.4 mpg combined Ford Fusion 23 city/31 hwy
Ford Galaxy 42.8 combined Ford Freestar 18 city/24 hwy
Ford Ka 32.1/51.4 Ford Escape Hybrid 36 city/31 hwy
Ford Mondeo 34.5 urban/ 57.7 extra urban Ford Taurus 20 city/27 hwy

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Third quarter losses and fierce competition for American car and truck buyers, prompted the automaker to launch a corporate-wide campaign last month to reposition Ford Motor as a leader in innovation and cutting-edge energy policies.

Ford's next hybrid will be the Fusion slated to be introduced in 2008, along with the Mercury Milan Hybrid.

Automakers are betting that rising gasoline prices will continue to push consumers toward more environmentally friendly vehicles, even if smaller cars might lead to smaller profits. 2007 Honda Fit introduced at North American International Auto Show.


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