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Briefs: Ford’s Hybrid Hiccup

1 minute read
Joseph R. Szczesny/ Detroit

Rebates have been a part of the car business since Lee Iacocca proclaimed in the 1980s, “Buy a car, get a check.” They’re now cropping up in an unlikely place–hybrids. Spooked after unsold Escape hybrid SUVs started piling up this winter, Ford is offering incentives of as much as $1,000 in an effort to goose sales of the $27,515 vehicle. In Los Angeles, where hybrid drivers get access to car-pool lanes, Ford is offering 0% financing on the Escape, the first hybrid made by a U.S. automaker.

Ford isn’t the only one having trouble selling larger hybrids, which get about 30 m.p.g. Toyota, for example, is offering deals on its Highlander hybrid. Analysts say the price difference between SUVs and their hybrid versions $3,500 for the Escapeis too steep for price-conscious buyers. Incentives keep that gap from getting “out of whack,” says a Ford spokesman. Still, Toyota and Honda bask in strong sales, even waiting lists, for smaller hybrids. But Ford has put its initial efforts into SUVs, a gamble that has yet to pay off. Turns out hybrid buyers are worried about more than one kind of green.

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