A hybrid-electric powered Ford Escape is being designed to be the cleanest, most fuel-efficient sport utility on the planet when it debuts in 2003. Ford is the first automaker to announce production plans for a hybrid-electric powered sport utility vehicle.

The Ford Escape HEV will feature an electric drivetrain to augment its fuel-efficient four-cylinder gasoline engine. With regenerative braking and nearly instantaneous start-stop capability, the Escape HEV will be especially fuel efficient in city traffic, delivering about 40 mpg in urban driving. Yet Escape HEV will deliver acceleration performance similar to an Escape equipped with the V-6 engine. The hybrid Escape will be capable of being driven more than 500 miles on a single tank of gasoline.

“The combination of fuel efficient operation, power-on-demand and extended range will make the Escape HEV an attractive choice for Ford customers,” says Neil Ressler, vice president, Ford Motor Company Research and Vehicle Technology.

“We’re applying advanced hybrid-electric technology to the heart of the American market: the highly popular sport utility vehicle,” Ressler says. “The Escape HEV will be fuel efficient and extremely clean. We’ll also sell this hybrid-electric SUV in Europe, under the Maverick name, where its nimble driving characteristics and clean, fuel-efficient operation should make it especially appealing to customers.”

The Escape HEV will feature an advanced regenerative braking system which recaptures energy in the form of electricity when the vehicle is being braked; the electrical energy is stored in the battery for future use. A sophisticated motor-generator saves fuel by shutting down the engine when the vehicle is coasting or stopped, restarting it almost instantaneously when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal. These and other related technologies have been developed and proven out in Ford’s P2000 research program.

The Escape HEV is being designed to operate more cleanly than government regulations require. In fact, it will qualify as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) under California standards. It also will meet Stage IV emissions requirements in Europe before they become mandatory in the 2005 model year.

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* Escape hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) under development for 2003 debut

* Fuel-efficient and powerful powertrain: projected to achieve about 40 miles per gallon even in stop-and-go urban driving yet will deliver acceleration comparable to the V-6 Escape

* Extremely clean operating: will achieve California SULEV emissions
rating; Stage IV in Europe