American Automakers Get Ready to Sell Hybrids

Ford Motor Co. announced today that it will put a second hybrid SUV on the market in 2007, but the company and its American counterparts still have a ways to go before they catch up with Japanese automakers and satisfy the demands of environmentalists. Ford’s first hybrid SUV, the Escape, will debut in dealerships this summer, but protesters outside this year’s New York International Auto Show are keeping the pressure on CEO Bill Ford, Jr., who prior to taking over the company was an outspoken environmental advocate. “Ford has shown that they can make a 35-mpg SUV — now they need to use this technology throughout their fleet to clean up the environment and cut our oil dependence,” said the Sierra Club’s Dan Becker. General Motors also has a few hybrid models set to debut in 2007. By that year, however, Toyota and Honda — who have reported high demand for their hybrids — will be selling three to four hybrid models apiece, including mid-size sedans and SUVs. Some analysts predict, and enviros hope, that high gas prices will accelerate demand for the fuel-saving models.