LONDON -- Ford said it will introduce a 48-volt mild-hybrid version of its latest Focus compact car in Europe in 2020.
Mild-hybrid systems improve fuel economy by supplementing a combustion engine with a burst of electric power under acceleration.
Ford will launch the Focus hatchback in Europe later this year. The company will offer a mild hybrid version of its 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine starting in April 2020.
"48 volt is a really big deal for us. It's a volume play, not just on this vehicle but across the board," Ford's global head of markets, Jim Farley, said at the global unveil of the Focus in London earlier this month.
How Ford markets the mild-hybrid Focus will depend on the country, the automaker's head of sales and marketing Roelant de Waard, told Automotive News Europe.
Customers in some markets will choose it because its CO2 emissions under 100 grams per km will reduce tax. In other markets it will be a premium feature offering higher horsepower, he said.
In the Focus launch lineup, only the 1.5-liter diesel engine is expected to fall under 100 g/km according to Ford's preliminary emissions figures.
Ford gave no details of its 48-volt system but it's expected to use a starter-generator mated to a lithium ion battery and connect to the engine via a belt.
Automakers are increasingly developing mild-hybrid systems either to improve diesel emissions, or reduce fuel consumption on gasoline models to match that of diesel.
Volkswagen Group is launching 48-volt systems on its cars. The Audi A6 that will go on sale later this year will initially launch with 48-volt mild-hybrid models in gasoline and diesel form, with 12-volt mild-hybrid four-cylinder models coming later.
Next year's Seat Leon will be offered with the brand's first mild-hybrid, head of development Matthias Rabe said early this year. The replacement for the VW Golf is also expected to have a mild-hybrid system next year.