Ford says it will quadruple hybrid vehicle production in the U.S. as demand for pure electric vehicles sags. Electric vehicles may be the hottest trend in the auto industry, but only some people want to or can buy one. For many people, an all-electric car is impractical because of its limited range, lengthy charging times, and lack of public charging stations. For those buyers, hybrid vehicles are the perfect fit. They allow owners to have the best of both worlds – clean, quiet motoring with the range of a gas-powered vehicle.
The 2023 Lincoln Corsair, a luxury large SUV, uses a hybrid system that can switch between gasoline and battery power. Its range is about 310 miles (525 km).
Several top automakers, including Toyota (7203.T) and Stellantis (STLAM.MI), plan to build and sell hundreds of thousands of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. over the next five years, industry forecasters told Reuters. They are pitching hybrids as an alternative for retail and commercial customers who want more sustainable transportation. Still, they may need more time to leap to a full-electric model.
Hybrids have been a critical pillar of global automakers’ efforts to meet stricter emissions requirements and combat climate change. Sales of pure electric cars and trucks have not soared as fast as some expected, mainly because of high prices, a short driving range, and long waiting periods for new charging stations. The tepid demand is also raising doubts about whether the government can impose stricter pollution targets in coming years, which would drive more consumers to go electric.
Many people are deciding to buy hybrids or even all-electric vehicles to cut their carbon footprints and save money on fuel costs. However, the industry still needs to convince more motorists to transition. To help, automakers are doubling down on hybrids, announcing plans for new models, and boosting production at existing ones.
Ford, the most significant automaker by sales in the United States, is boosting production of hybrids at its plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. It is also investing $11.4 billion in U.S. E.V. production, with a new BlueOvalSK battery plant in Stanton, Tennessee, and an assembly line for electric F-Series pickup trucks in central Kentucky.
That investment has some gas station owners dreading the future. Bob Bajwa owns a convenience store in Ritzville, Washington, and has an EVG charging station at his site. But he worries that the utility-controlled E.V. charging network will give power companies control over his profits. Other owners plan to ask utility companies for a more level playing field that allows them to wring some profit out of the charging stations as they do with gasoline pumps. Kum & Go, for example, is considering a battery storage system that could be deployed next to a charging station and tapped at peak demand times. It would help the fueler wring some profit from the juggernaut of E.V.s that are expected to hit the road in record numbers over the next decade or two.