Ford is working on a hybrid version of its most popular, and profitable vehicle, the F-150 pickup, and it’s going it alone.
After exploring the idea of developing a new rear-wheel-drive hybrid system jointly with Toyota, Ford has announced the two companies will be moving forward with their own programs.
“We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids, and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house,” said Ford’s global product chief, Raj Nair, in a press release marking the end of the collaboration.
Ford is seeing its best hybrid sales ever this year, with second quarter sales up 517 percent over 2012, thanks to the popularity of its new Ford C-Max, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars.
Hoping to build on that momentum as fleet fuel economy standards head toward 54.5 mpg in 2025, Ford hopes to have hybrid versions of the F-150 and its full-size SUVs on sale by the end of this decade.
To date, the only hybrid pickups and large SUVs sold in the United States were made by General Motors through the 2013 model year when they were cancelled due to low sales stemming from their high prices and small fuel economy payback. Chrysler scuttled plans for hybrid pickups using the same technology as GM's before putting them into production.
Details on Ford’s hybrid system have not been revealed, but the automaker is also aiming to reduce the weight of its full-size trucks dramatically when the next generation debuts in 2014, according to reports. A cut of up to 700 pounds said to be the target.
That truck is expected to make its debut at the Detroit Auto Show next January with styling cues inspired by the Atlas Concept unveiled at the 2013 show, with production following later in the year.