Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid Production Pushed to 2021
Ford will delay production of the new Escape Plug-in Hybrid compact SUV until the 2021 model year, according to a report by Reuters. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which is EPA-rated to provide 37 miles of electric driving range before switching to gas-electric hybrid operation, will join a rapidly growing list of small SUVs with PHEV drivetrains.
Ford redesigned the compact crossover SUV for 2020, and it was the highest ranked model in its class in the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (in a tie with the Mazda CX-5).
Original plans called for the Escape PHEV to enter production at Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky assembly plant in the spring of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of production. Now, a spate of battery fires in the Escape PHEV’s European twin, the Ford Kuga PHEV, has prompted a recall of that model.
“Because we share components with the Kuga PHEV, including battery cells, we are moving production to next year, while we work with the battery cell supplier to resolve the issue affecting Kuga PHEV in Europe,” a company spokesman in Europe told Reuters. Automotive News reports that the problem is related to venting heat from the battery pack.
The problem with Ford Kuga PHEV batteries is the latest in a series of negative news reports related to electrified vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports of battery fires in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Hyundai is expected to recall all of its Kona Electric models worldwide following numerous battery fires.
Fires are common in gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicles. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports: “Each year, from 2014 to 2016, an estimated 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States, resulting in an annual average of 345 deaths; 1,300 injuries; and $1.1 billion in property loss. These highway vehicle fires accounted for 13 percent of fires responded to by fire departments across the nation.”
The information in this article is gathered from numerous reliable sources. It was accurate on October 14, 2020, but it may have changed since that date.