Ford just released its hybrid car sales figures for September, and they were up 78 percent from the same month last year. This is hardly surprising, because Ford introduced the Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids (as 2010 models) this fall, and they’ve found their way into a plethora of taxi and government fleets. Being American hasn’t hurt (though the cars are actually assembled in Mexico, an alert reader points out). The entire industry suffered a 14 percent decline in hybrid sales in September.
Ford sold 26,016 hybrids in September, according to Autodata. In the same period, its overal sales were down six percent–following a two percent increase in July and an impressive 17 percent gain in August.
The Fusion/Milan delivers 41 mpg in the city, and 36 on the highway. The hybrid Escape does 34 city/30 highway. Ford boasts that more than 60 percent of its Fusion Hybrid sales have been to non-Ford owners, and more than half are refugees from import brands (mostly Toyota and Honda).
You’ve probably noticed a growing number of Ford Escape Hybrid taxis on the streets of New York and San Francisco (beginning in 2005, and now 200-strong and 14 percent of the fleet). The first 15 Escapes managed 300,000 miles each before retirement, which should be solid evidence that battery-heavy hybrids can be dependable. The Escape is ubiquitous in New York, along with Nissan Altimas and a smattering of Toyota Priuses. The car is also in a growing number of state and federal government fleets.
New York has 2,000 Escape Hybrids on the road, and 13,237 hybrid taxis total. The first Escapes are only now retiring from the mean streets.
“We’re extremely pleased with the performance of the Escape Hybrid in taxi service,” said Gerry Koss, Ford’s fleet marketing manager. “Not only have they proven very reliable, they’ve also saved taxi drivers money on gas and contributed to lower tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions in the cities that use them in taxi fleets.”
The feds bought 3,000 Ford hybrids so far in 2009, 1,900 of them funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act monies. The U.S. Army alone bought 400 Fusions, and 45 Escapes were delivered to the Los Angeles County Lifeguards for rescue patrol duty. The lifeguards have experienced a 25 percent, more than 5,000-gallon fuel savings in the first six months.
This all demonstrates that there is money in fleet sales, though the cars and trucks need to be worth buying, too.