Ford has celebrated the production of its 100,000th hybrid SUV and reinforced its commitment to ramping up production of hybrid vehicles this year.

Ford launched the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrids five years ago.

Ford dealers are preparing to begin selling the all-new 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids, which will be America's most fuel-efficient midsize sedans.

"As we celebrate our 100,000th hybrid, America's interest in hybrid vehicles keeps growing, as does Ford's commitment to advanced powertrain technologies that deliver greater fuel economy, lower emissions and help enhance our country's energy security," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. "No domestic automaker has more real-world experience with hybrid vehicle technology than Ford, and it shows in the quality and fuel economy of our vehicles."

Today, the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV and Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV deliver 34 mpg city driving, 31 mpg highway. The newest entries to Ford's hybrid lineup, the Fusion Hybrid and Milan Hybrid deliver 41 mpg city driving, 36 mpg highway, the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the market today.

The Kansas City Assembly Plant, which employs 4,100 people, has been the hub for Ford's hybrid SUV production since 2004 when the first Ford Escape Hybrid rolled off the line. Lean, flexible manufacturing processes and specially-trained employees at the plant allow the hybrids to be built on the same production line as conventional Escape and Mariner SUVs.

"All of us at the plant feel tremendous pride as we celebrate this important milestone," said Ken Ward, Kansas City plant manager. "We are as enthusiastic about building the 100,000th vehicle today as we were at the initial launch."

In addition to the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids, the Kansas City Assembly Plant builds the Ford F-150 Regular Cab, Super Cab and Super Crew; the Ford Escape; the Mercury Mariner and the Mazda Tribute.