Ford does not expect its Mondeo hybrid to be a big seller in Europe but the environmentally friendly car could benefit from a backlash in some countries against diesel cars.
The latest generation Mondeo is currently rolling out in showrooms and the midsize car has a hybrid variant for the first time.
Ford says the hybrid will account for just 3 percent of the Mondeo range’s sales in the UK, its biggest European market. In other European markets the number will be similar, Ford of Europe’s head of sales Roelant de Waard says.
Ford expects annual European sales of 90,000 to 100,000 Mondeo, so the hybrid’s volume will be well under 5,000.
So why launch a Mondeo hybrid?
One reason is to ensure that Ford has low-emission cars available if European lawmakers make regulatory changes, de Waard says. “Legislation around Europe is so different it's very difficult to predict,” he said. “If you’re betting only on one horse you might be lucky, but you also may be very unlucky.”
The hybrid’s gasoline-electric powertrain could work in its favor as more European cities start to impose penalties to discourage diesel cars because of health fears about diesel particulates.
France will offer a bonus of up to 10,000 euros ($11,422) to consumers who buy an electric car to replace an old diesel vehicle starting in April. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has said she wants diesels banned in the city by 2020. The London borough of Islington this year started charging residents who own diesel cars more than those with gasoline models to park on its streets.
Regardless of regulatory changes, Mondeo hybrid sales will be low because it keeps the sedan body style of its sister model, the U.S.-market Fusion hybrid. European buyers prefer hatchbacks and wagons.
The Mondeo hybrid is also expensive, priced at 34,950 euros (Germany).
The car is powered by 2.0-liter gasoline engine, combined with an electric motor and 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery. It has CO2 emissions just below 100 grams per km. It’s not the CO2 champion of the Mondeo range. The Mondeo 1.6 TDCI diesel takes that title with CO2 emissions of 94g/km.
Ford already sells a plug-in hybrid and hybrid versions of its C-Max compact minivan in some European markets and its Focus compact model with an all-electric drivetrain.