The Hybrid Revolution

Ford excepted, American carmakers continue to feed the child-like belief that there is an unlimited supply of petroleum to fuel internal combustion engines indefinitely.

Published: 14-Jan-2005

N class=article>FORD Motor Co.'s decision to move ahead with production of its hybrid-powered Escape sport-utility vehicle has paid off handsomely with its designation as North American "Truck of the Year" for 2005.

The honor for Ford at the Detroit auto show, which opens tomorrow, is significant and maybe even a little revolutionary. Promoting a vehicle that gets good gas mileage does not usually produce many brownie points in an industry that seems strangely wedded to gas-guzzling cars and trucks even as international events point to a future in which fuel economy is paramount.

Dealers, meanwhile, have year-long waiting lists of consumers who are eager to pay above-sticker prices to get their hands on a gas-electric hybrid like the Escape but can't buy one because the vehicles can't be built fast enough to satisfy demand.

The same is true of Toyota's popular Prius, the acknowledged leader at this point among hybrid passenger cars. With federal fuel economy ratings of 60 miles per gallon in the city and 55 on the highway, and generally good reviews from auto publications, the $20,000 Prius has been inordinately successful for a "green" vehicle.

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