Ford Sees Fivefold Surge in U.S. Hybrid Sales on Way to Record

Ford Motor Co., which has introduced five new electric-powered models in the past year, expects its sales of hybrid vehicles to surge by fivefold in January to start a record year for the company.

Ford will report that it sold more than 6,000 hybrid cars and utilities, led by the Fusion and C-Max models, this month, up from 1,209 a year earlier, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said in an e-mailed statement. For all of 2012, Ford came within 500 hybrid deliveries of its record, set in 2010.

“We are looking toward 2013 as being a record sales year for our hybrid vehicles,” Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, said in an e-mail. Of Ford’s hybrid sales last year, 55 percent occurred during the fourth quarter, he said.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally has led an overhaul of Ford’s lineup since joining the company in 2006 with an emphasis on fuel-efficient smaller cars to complement its better-selling pickups and sport-utility vehicles. The carmaker is entering its first full year with the C-Max models and a revamped Fusion hybrid sedan in the U.S. market.

Ford’s previous record for hybrid sales in the month of January was 1,847 vehicles in 2010, when Ford also set its annual record of 35,496. The company delivered 35,034 hybrids last year, a 29 percent increase from a year earlier.

Toyota Motor Corp. is the pre-eminent leader in the U.S. hybrid market, with its Prius line alone posting 236,659 sales last year, according to researcher Autodata Corp. The Toyota City, Japan-based automaker boosted Prius deliveries by 73 percent as it added v wagon, c subcompact and plug-in iterations of the hybrid, which it began selling in the U.S. in 2000.

Ford has said it is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in examining the industry’s testing procedures for hybrid fuel economy after facing criticism by reviewers such as Consumer Reports. The C-Max and Fusion hybrids are both rated at 47 miles (76 kilometers) per gallon in highway driving.

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