Electric vehicles will account for a “major portion” of Ford’s US model line, chief executive Alan Mulally has said.

Pickup trucks and SUVs currently account for about 60% of sales but the company has been offering hybrids in the US since 2004 and recently said its new small European van, the Turkish-built Transit Connect, would have an electric option from 2010 with an electric car and a ‘range extender’ competitor for GM’s Chevrolet Volt to follow in the next couple of years.

“In 10 years, 12 years, you are going to see a major portion of our portfolio move to electric vehicles,” Mulally said at a Wall Street Journal economics conference in Santa Barbara, California, according to Reuters.

“Ten years is going to come very quickly and I think we’ll have a significant improvement in the fuel efficiency in the internal combustion engine,” Mulally said in response to a question about what Ford expected a decade from now.

“You’ll see more hybrids, but you will really see a lot more electric vehicles,” he said.

The company is also introducing more fuel-efficient petrol models in the US. A special batch of 100 Fiestas was recently built in Germany and shipped over for use in a promotional programme ahead of the 2010 launch.

Mulally said Ford was committed to shifting away from its recent reliance on light trucks for 60% or more of its sales so that more fuel-efficient passenger cars dominate, Reuters added.

“We can now make cars in the United States and we can do it profitably,” he said.

Though fuel prices have dropped from a peak last summer, Mulally said Ford was building a strategy around longer-term energy scarcity.

“Over time, we are going to see ever-increasing prices for energy,” he said.