Ford plans to hybridize half its models by 2010

Reeling from recent profit declines and concerned about stiff competition from Japanese automakers, Ford Motor Co. today announced a big expansion of its hybrid strategy, including plans to offer gas-electric hybrid versions of half its models by 2010. Its current hybrid offerings are limited to SUVs — the Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape. Ford plans to ramp up production of hybrids to about 250,000 a year by 2010, up from about 24,000 now. And though Toyota is still expected to dominate the hybrid market in the near future, churning out up to 400,000 in 2006 and aiming to offer hybrid versions of all its models eventually, Ford’s announcement was hailed by greens who’ve long lobbied the automaker to jump on the efficiency bandwagon.