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Ford Says Hybrid System Gains Give Fusion Edge Over Camry

Ford is boosting factory capacity to build the Fusion  by adding a shift of production of the car at a factory in Michigan, augmenting the two shifts of workers already assembling the car in Mexico. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Ford is boosting factory capacity to build the Fusion by adding a shift of production of the car at a factory in Michigan, augmenting the two shifts of workers already assembling the car in Mexico. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., the first U.S.-based carmaker to sell a hybrid, said its pace of technology is accelerating to allow its new Fusion to top Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry hybrid when it goes on sale later this year.

Ford patents related to gasoline-electric systems have risen to 461, from only 30 a decade ago, with more on the way, Chuck Gray, chief engineer for hybrid and electric powertrains, said in an interview. Ford last month said the hybrid version of its revamped Fusion will get 47 miles per gallon in city driving, 44 mpg highway. The new Camry hybrid that went on sale last year is rated at 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway.

“It’s good for the customer, and we like to have this competition,” Gray said. “Engineers may not be the best athletes always, but we are very competitive people.”

The rivalry between Ford and Toyota in hybrid sedan fuel-economy claims began when Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford released the 2010 Fusion hybrid, edging ahead of Toyota’s first gasoline-electric Camry. While Toyota remains the biggest seller of hybrids, led by its Prius models, Ford and other competitors want a bigger share of the market for advanced technology autos.

By 2020, Ford expects hybrids, plug-in vehicles and models powered solely by electricity, to account for 10 percent to 25 percent of global sales, Wes Sherwood, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The 2013 hybrid Fusion will go on sale in the second half, Ford said.

Toyota has more than 2,000 patents for its hybrids, including more than 1,000 for the current Prius alone, said Jana Hartline, a company spokeswoman. The Prius hatchback is rated by the U.S. as getting 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway, or 50 mpg combined, the highest such rating for any non-rechargeable auto.

The carmakers last year announced plans to collaborate on a hybrid system that could be used for heavier models including pickups and large sport-utility vehicles.

Ford slid 0.5 percent to $12.48 at the close in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

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

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