Ford (NYSE: FORD) Targets 100 MPG Fusion
The Detroit based Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: FORD) may have the answer to wishes from consumers hoping for fuel efficient vehicles. Although gas prices have fallen in recent weeks, the rising cost of fuel has stung consumers budgets in recent years, and have sent them running from the large, inefficient SUV’s bought for much of the previous two decades. Like the late 1970’s, we see consumers shifting their tastes to smaller, more efficient cars. The problem is the lack of supply though – the auto industry is painfully slow to respond to changing tastes, and there remain very limited options for consumers seeking the smaller or more efficient larger vehicles. Ford is trying to buck that trend quickly, to take advantage of the immense market possibility.
The automaker is announcing today that the plug-in hybrid version of the 2013 Ford Fusion will be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as getting the electric equivalent of 108 miles a gallon in city driving, 92 MPGe in highway driving for a combined 100 MPGe overall.
The plug-in Fusion’s chief rival, the Toyota Prius plug-in, gets 95 MPGe. Still waiting in the wings is the plug-in version of Honda’s Accord, which hasn’t been rated yet. The government calculation is based on the idea that people will plug in their cars then drive them on electric power only until the juice runs out and the gas motor takes over. So the actual mileage that anyone gets depends on their daily commute. The shorter the commute, the more miles driven on electric power, the higher the the gas mileage. The plug-in version is the latest version of the new 2013 Fusion, the car that wowed the North American International Auto Show last year and has generally received good reviews in its various incarnations. There’s the regular ol’ gas model, two turbocharged EcoBoost versions, a hybrid and now the plug-in hybrid. The plug-in version of the Fusion, called the Fusion Energi, is the last one to come to showrooms at a base price of $39,495 plus delivery charges, almost identical to the Prius plug-in. Ford says additional pricing details will be announced closer to launch.
For now, the efficient cars will have an ecological impact, but not necessarily economic. The technology remains cost prohibitive, and the sticker prices are far above their purely gasoline counterparts. The price is almost twice the $21,700 that someone would pay for the absolute rock-bottom cheapest conventional Fusion, but Ford says the gasoline savings will add up. It says the plug-in could save $6,850 in gas costs over a typical five years of driving. If Ford, or any other auto company can figure out how to bring that price down in the near term, we may see a new wave for the auto industry and consumer buying.