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Ford planning Toyota Prius fighter

A recent report, by Reuters, claims Ford is working on a dedicated Toyota Prius fighter to be released in 2018. A variety of spin-offs are planned, including a plug-in hybrid.

TOYOTA, VIA THE PRIUS, has had the hybrid market all to itself, but according to a recent report from Reuters, the Blue Oval is planning a dedicated Toyota Prius fighter. And, if the news agency is correct, it would be Ford’s first ever dedicated hybrid rather than an electrified version of an existing model.

Ford has refused to comment on the speculation, but rumours are rife the Ford hybrid will be based on the next-generation Focus, available in a number of body styles and with different powertrain options. Reuters claims that Ford will also offer a dedicated plug-in hybrid, like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

The new hybrid model is expected to hit the market in 2018. But, according to Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer sales of hybrids, in the US, have almost stalled as car buyers balk at the higher prices for minimal fuel economy gains.

“The technology was novel 10 years ago, and I think that alone had a certain amount of pull with consumers. But anytime you did hard analysis, most hybrids didn’t make sense,” Brauer explained. “What’s happened is that non-hybrids are getting much better fuel economy. The novelty of the technology has worn off, plus non-hybrids are getting closer and closer.”

Kelley Blue Book recently ranked the Toyota Prius as the cheapest hybrid to own over a five-year period, but Brauer believes Ford can lap the Prius in fuel economy.

“Ford has done more technological development in the last 10 years than Toyota,” Brauer said, adding that Toyota’s latest Prius redesign failed to provide a significant increase miles-per-gallon.

“Basicially, give me the Fiesta they have now with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, and I think they can get 60-plus mpg (3.9L/100km) ratings, which Toyota needs to get with the next Prius. Ford has laid more groundwork for its next hybrid than Toyota.”

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober