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Ford, Nissan Abandon Key Hybrid Programs

Are manufacturers rethinking gas-electric advantages?

by on Apr.10, 2012

The 2013 Nissan Altima with CEO Ghosn.

Both Ford and Nissan are abandoning major hybrid-electric vehicles that might seem perfectly suited for a time when fuel prices are rapidly approaching record levels and consumers are looking for higher-mileage alternatives.

Nissan will no longer offer a hybrid Altima when it launches an all-new version of the midsize sedan for 2013.  Ford, meanwhile, is scrapping the hybrid version of its Escape, which had the distinction of being the first-ever gas-electric SUV.

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Though such decisions actually were made quite some time ago they impact new products coming to market during one of the fastest run-ups in fuel prices ever experienced in the U.S. market.  And the two gas-electric models are dropping out just as hybrids – notably including the Toyota Prius – are setting all-time sales records.

So, why pull two hybrid versions of popular models like the Altima and Escape?


Ford Adding 1.0-liter EcoBoost, 8-Speed Automatics

Maker also moving hybrid driveline production in-house as sales rise.

by on Jun.02, 2011

Though Ford isn't revealing details, sources suggest the 1.0-liter I3 engine may first show up on the Fiesta.

Ford will introduce another version of its high-mileage EcoBoost engine line-up, at 1.0-liter expected to be not just the smallest but the most fuel-efficient offering in its U.S. powertrain family.

Separately, the maker plans to match its competitors in the escalating “gear war,” with a new 8-speed automatic transmission now under development.  Ford also plans to stop purchasing its hybrid drive system from outside supplier Aisin, bringing in-house the production of the advanced technology used in such models as the Ford Escape Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

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“We’re doing everything we can to improve fuel economy,” Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development czar, told prior to a Thursday news conference.

The new moves are “a significant development” for a company that had long been faulted for lagging behind on powertrain development, noted John McElroy, an industry analyst and host of the TV and webcast AutoLine: Detroit.