AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
After 71 years of acting as Ford’s middle child, the final nail in the Mercury coffin was pounded in, as dealers removed all remnants of Mercury logos and signs from their dealerships, marking the end of the brand’s existence once and for all.
Mercury vehicles ended production in October, although a final order for government agencies continued to be produced. Although Mercury produced some iconic vehicles, such as the early sedans used in the hot-rodding community, and the Cougar muscle car, the brand became little more than cosmetically enhanced Ford products throughout the 1980′s and 1990′s, giving consumers scant reason to purchase a Mercury vehicle.
[Source: Detroit News]
Just as Toyota is facing a potential recall of its popular Prius hybrid for brake problems, Ford has today announced a recall of its own, affecting the Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan hybrid. The comparatively small recall affects 17,600 Fusion and Milan hybrids built on or before October 17, 2009.
Officially the move by Ford is a Technical Service Bulletin and not a full recall, as the brake issue is not a safety concern says Ford. The problem, says Ford, is due to a software glitch where the car’s regenerative braking (used to recharge the hybrid battery) does not engage or is late to engage, as a result there is a feeling of brake-pressure loss. The conventional brakes do still work fully, however, and so with full braking potential this is not a safety issue.
Only one complain has been recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the TSB was announced after a Consumer Reports test driver experienced the brake delay.
Ford is closing in on its Japanese rivals in the hybrid sales race. So far in 2009 the American automaker has posted a 73 percent gain in its hybrid sales with a total of 26,016 vehicles sold. That number is roughly 4,000 short of Honda’s total hybrid sales at 29,958 units, but the percentage of gain should have the Japanese automakers worried. Honda, a distant second to segment leader Toyota, has managed only 8 percent growth so far this year.
Toyota’s hybrid sales this year in the U.S. total 144,351 units, although sales of the Prius are down 19.4 percent. The Pirus is still the top hybrid model, followed by Toyota’s Camry Hybrid, the Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid and then the ford Fusion and Escape hybrids.
Much of Ford’s surge can be attributed to the Fusion Hybrid, which uses technology similar to Toyota’s to deliver 41/36 mpg (city/highway). This two-mode hybrid technology is more advanced than the setup Honda is currently using.
Honda isn’t about to give up it’s second place spot, however, and has announced that the Insight will get improvements in fuel-economy and ride quality. Ford, however, is planning it’s own attack, with the 2010 Murcury Milan Hybrid due out soon, which should give Ford a slight increase in its overall hybrid sales numbers.
Ford’s Fusion Hybrid, which boasts a class leading fuel economy rating of 36/41 mpg (city/highway) will qualify for a $3,400 tax credit – the largest such tax credit the federal government has ever given out.The same tax credit will also apply to the Mercury Milan Hybrid.
Ford is excited about this incentive and hopes it is enough to win over buyers who might have considered the initial cost of Hybrid ownership to be too steep.
“Hybrids are an important part of our strategy to deliver the best or among the best fuel economy
with all of our new products, and the Fusion and Milan Hybrids have set the pace for the company,
as well as our competitors,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development at Ford. “We’re glad to see our government help promote these advanced, clean fuel-efficient vehicles to the
Ford has made huge strides with its Fusion Hybrid, posting significantly better fuel economy numbers than any of the competition. Much of that has to do with the new technology Ford has developed for its second generation hybrid system. The system includes: a smaller and lighter nickel-metal hydride battery that provides 28 percent more power than the outgoing battery; a regenerative braking system; a new hybrid system that can operate on pure electric energy up to 47 mph and throttle control that reduces airflow on shutdowns and thereby reducing fuel needed on restarts.
In total the new Fusion Hybrid boasts 119 patents and the result is a car that can drive 700 miles on a tank.
If you want the full tax credit be aware that it is only available to those who purchase a car before March 31, 2009. As of April 1st only half of that credit will be available. The amount will be further reduced in the fourth quarter of 2009.
As for Ford’s other models, the 2009 Escape and Mariner Hybrid FWD models qualify for a $3,000 tax credit, with 4WD models receiving a $1,950 credit. Owners of previous model-year Escape and Mariner hybrid models may also qualify for varying credit amounts from $1,950 to $3,000.
Official release after the jump: