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Ford to Triple Volume of Electric Vehicles, Hybrids by 2013

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. plans to triple North American production of electric vehicles and hybrids to more than 100,000 models by 2013 as it works to make a quarter of its vehicles run at least partly on electricity.

The second-largest U.S. automaker is expanding production plans for the C-Max hybrid wagon and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, said today at a factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Ford will begin producing the five-passenger wagon next year in the U.S., where it won’t sell a gasoline-only version, Farley said.

“We’re not electrifying a certain vehicle and making a science project,” he said. “We’re electrifying our core” models.

Ford is investing $135 million and adding 220 jobs at three Michigan plants to produce five “electrified” models. The automaker is building an electric version of its Transit Connect van and will start making a battery-powered Focus compact this year. Automakers are developing models powered at least partly by electricity as U.S. fuel-economy standards rise.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has revived Ford in part by focusing on fuel efficiency and broadening the lineup with small cars like the Focus and Fiesta subcompact. The only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, Ford earned $9.28 billion in the past two years after $30.1 billion in losses from 2006 through 2008.

Ford now sells about 35,000 hybrids a year, Farley said. It offers hybrid versions of the Escape sport-utility vehicle and the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans.

‘Growing Appetite’

“We’re seeing a huge, growing appetite for fuel-efficient, green vehicles,” Farley said. “Customers are really prioritizing fuel economy.”

Both the C-Max hybrid and C-Max plug-in hybrid will get more than 41 miles per gallon on the highway, Farley said. He declined to give specific city and highway mileage numbers. Each version will have a driving range of more than 500 miles, said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s director of electrification engineering.

“Is this our Prius fighter?” asked Farley, a former Toyota Motor Corp. marketing executive. “Let’s just say that it’s the first vehicle from Ford with a unique silhouette dedicated to a hybrid.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Sterling Heights, Michigan, at Knaughton3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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