Hybrid Handwriting on the Wall
OIT -- Automakers and suppliers see the writing on the wall. The success of the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid has forced manufacturers to build more gasoline-electric hybrids.
In the short run, hybrids will be most viable because consumers will pay a premium to get them, a panel of powertrain experts concluded last week at the Automotive News World Congress.
This year Toyota Motor Corp. will produce 100,000 Prius cars for North America, double the 2004 figure. And Ford Motor Co. says it could sell five times as many Escape hybrids if it had ordered enough batteries, motors and other key components.
Mary Ann Wright, Ford's director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid programs, noted that Ford marketing officials had planned for sales of 20,000 units this year. "We had no idea where the market would go when we were doing this," Wright said. "We are working to increase capacity. We have a plan in place. We will look at many potential partners."
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