Quoting two sources with knowledge of the car maker’s future product plans, Reuters says the hybrid model will be a compact car designed to go head to head with the Toyota Prius.
It will become the company’s first hybrid-exclusive vehicle, following the Fusion (Mondeo) and C-Max Hybrid and Energi (plug-in) variants that are based on existing models. Ford also sells the Focus Electric in North America and Europe.
The sources claim the new hybrid will be built at the company’s Wayne assembly plant in Michigan at a rate of approximately 120,000 per year.
As Toyota has done with Prius, Ford is expected to create a family of hybrid models based on the new model, potentially offering several different body styles. Conventional hybrid and rechargeable plug-in versions will be offered.
Some of the powertrain technology, such as batteries and electric motors, will be inherited and adapted from Ford’s existing hybrids, though the dedicated model will provide superior fuel economy and range.
Ford’s existing hybrids have achieved mixed success in the US this year. Sales of the Fusion hybrid are up 24 per cent to 31,092, accounting for one in six Fusions sold in the market, but C-Max hybrid sales are down 29 per cent to 16,444.
Rival Toyota is expected to begin production of its fourth-generation Prius around the end of 2015, while the second-generation Chevrolet Volt will make its international debut at January’s Detroit auto show.