Ford will add full hybrid versions of its S-Max and Galaxy minivans after investing in battery pack production at its plant in Valencia, Spain, where both models are built.
The fuel efficient, low CO2-emitting hybrid drivetrain could give the minivans a new lease of life when they go on sale next year. Currently most S-Max and Galaxy models are sold with diesel engines.
The gasoline-electric hybrid models will pair a 2.5-liter engine with a lithium ion battery to cut emissions to 140 grams per km on the WLTP emissions cycle, a big improvement on the 170 g/km emitted by the S-Max's 1.5-liter conventional gasoline engine.
Europe's minivan market is in decline as more automakers shift their focus to meeting customers' increasing demand for SUVs.
Ford axed its B-Max small minivan in 2018 and the C-Max compact model in 2019 but has continued to offer the the S-Max and Galaxy as sales hold up relatively well.
Sales of the S-Max were up 0.6 percent to 23,702 in 2019, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. Galaxy sales increased 12 percent to 13,200.
Ford said it will spend 42 million euros ($47 million) to construct on battery pack production at the Valencia plant.
The facility will also build packs for a hybrid version of the new Ford Kuga compact SUV, which will launch later this year with the same 2.5-liter drivetrain.
Ford builds the Kuga, S-Max, Galaxy and Mondeo midsize car at Valencia. A hybrid version of the Mondeo is also built at Valencia based around a 2-0-liter engine.
The hybrid S-Max will be sold as a five-seater or a seven-seater, while the hybrid Galaxy will be offered as a seven-seater only.
Ford said that the five-seat hybrid S-Max and the seven-seat Galaxy would retain their existing load-capacity.
Ford expects both hybrid models to be rated at 197 hp, compared to 163 hp for the 1.5-liter gasoline model.
The automaker said it expected the hybrids to out-perform the diesel models on acceleration, without giving figures. It also did not mention prices.