Ford Hybrids in Oakville Promise a Canadian First
Mark Fields, the Ford Motor Company's top North American executive, announced at the CIAS that his company expects to be the first to produce hybrid-electric vehicles in Canada.
The first hybrid-powered models Ford would produce there should be upcoming versions of the all-new 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover models, which will soon be rolling out of the Oakville plant, transformed and refurbished at a stated cost of a billion dollars.
Ford president and CEO, Mark Fields, more specifically announced on Wednesday, February 15, during the first Media day at the CIAS that the production of hybrid versions of the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) will begin at the Oakville Assembly Complex before the end of the decade.
Oakville Plant Transformed
The 486,000 square-metre (5.4 million sq-ft) complex is currently undergoing a $1-billion conversion to flexible manufacturing, which will allow it to build multiple models on unique architectures.
Production of conventional 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) will begin in the fourth quarter of this year with hybrid production scheduled to begin by 2010. Specific product details for the Canadian-made hybrids will be revealed closer to launch.
"Hybrids will put Ford at the forefront of vehicle assembly innovation in Canada, forever changing the landscape by producing vehicles that significantly reduce smog-forming emissions and are extremely fuel efficient," said Fields. "It's a forward-thinking decision for the environment and our Oakville operations."
Adding hybrids to the production mix is just one of Oakville's many innovations. Others include the flexible manufacturing operation itself, on-site research and development, and an initiative to convert paint fumes to clean electricity, according to plant manager Frank Gourneau.
A Full Hybrid Range
Ford's current hybrid lineup includes the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV and its Mercury Mariner twin (not sold in Canada), and production plans have already been announced for hybrid variants of the Escape-based Mazda Tribute, the Ford Fusion and Five Hundred, and their Mercury Milan and Montego counterparts (not sold in Canada).
The Edge and MXX will bring the number of Ford-family hybrid models to nine. The company plans to sell 250,000 hybrids a year globally by 2010.
Classified as "full hybrids," Ford's HEVs offer the following attributes:
- Electric drive - moves the vehicle, in certain situations, under electric power alone.
- Engine stop-start - saves fuel by automatically shutting off the engine when not needed.
- Engine assist - provides electric motor assist to the gasoline engine for higher performance when needed.
- Regenerative braking - recovers and stores energy from deceleration that would otherwise be lost as heat.
To encourage consumer adoption of hybrids, which are inherently more expensive than their conventional counterparts, the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island offer tax incentives ranging from $1000 to $3,000 for their purchase.