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Ford backs hybrids

Ford backs hybrids

Ford announced its intention to offer hybrid versions of five models by 2008, increasing that to half of its model line by 2010. The five models to get hybridized are the already released Ford Escape, followed by the Mercury Mariner, Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Mazda Tribute. The plan calls for 250,000 hybrid sales annually by 2010.

Meanwhile, Toyota previously announced plans to offer hybrid versions of all its cars by 2010. Ford has some catching up to do, as Toyota plans on selling 150,000 hybrids next year. Beyond the Prius and Highlander, Toyota will build a hybrid Camry. Its Lexus division already offers the RX400h, and the GS450h is expected for 2006. From these stats, it looks like hybrids are going from a niche market to full-fledged automotive competition. Sales of the Prius have been booming, and other auto makers are going to want to replicate that success.

This trend looks very similar to the rise in popularity of the SUV, which had been dominated by the Chevy Suburban in the 1980s. As other auto makers realized how well the Suburban was selling, they all jumped on the bandwagon, until even Porsche offered an SUV. Hybrids may follow a similar success trend, especially once more diverse types of hybrids are made available and car makers can judge how the market is responding.