Ford Motor Co. plans to offer its first hybrid-electric vehicle, the Escape/Maverick sport-utility, in 2003.
Gasoline versions of the SUV will debut in North America in late summer. The vehicle will be badged the Escape in North America. It will be launched in Europe as the Maverick in early 2001.
Ford changed the name for Europe after Renault complained that it was too close to Espace.
The SUV, which rides on a new truck platform, will be sold in right-hand-drive and left-hand-drive versions in 167 markets worldwide.
Mazda will also sell a version of the vehicle as the Tribute.
Ford will build 250,000 left-hand-drive units annually for global markets at its assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Mazda will receive 30,000 units. In addition, 40,000 right-hand-drive units will be built in Hofu, Japan.
In Europe, the Maverick will be offered with Ford's 2.0-liter, 16-valve, Zetec four-cylinder engine paired with a manual transmission, or a 3.0-liter, 24-valve, Duratec six-cylinder engine mated to an automatic transmission. No diesel version is currently planned, Ford said at a US briefing in Dearborn, Michigan, last week.
The hybrid-electric Maverick will be sold in Europe in 2003, said Rick Eagle, Escape hybrid-electric project leader.
The hybrid-electric sport-utility will deliver acceleration comparable to the V-6 Escape by employing both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor, Ford said. Driving range is an estimated 800km per tank.
The hybrid-electric will meet Stage IV emissions requirements in Europe before they become mandatory in the 2005 model year.
To save fuel, the engine will cut off when the vehicle is coasting or stopped. It will restart when the driver steps on the accelerator pedal. At highway speeds, only the gasoline engine will drive the vehicle. Braking will generate electricity to recharge the battery.