Delays are never fun, but sometimes, they are in the best interest of every party. After having to recall some of its plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe, it appears a hotly anticipated US model will show up to the party a little later than Ford had hoped.
Ford is shifting production of the Escape Plug-In Hybrid until the 2021 model year, according to the automaker. “We are moving full scale production of Escape PHEV to the 2021 model year,” a Ford spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Roadshow. “The first Escape PHEVs will be sold next year.”
That’s not necessarily the interesting part. As of two weeks ago, Ford Authority reported that Escape PHEV models would begin production in January 2021 while, according to the report, still being sold under the 2020 model year. It’s unclear whether or not January is the new or old date for production. Ford only sent over that two-sentence statement and did not answer questions pertaining to Ford Authority’s report, so there are still some unanswered questions here.
The interesting bit is why the Escape PHEV was delayed. According to a report from Reuters, which spoke with a European spokesperson as well, production was kicked down the road to address issues with a vehicle that shares parts with the Escape PHEV. The Kuga, as the Escape is known in Europe, has been recalled over possible concerns with the high-voltage battery, which “could result in a fire,” according to Reuters. Ford’s European spokesperson told Reuters that the automaker is working with its suppliers to fix the issue at hand, which currently affects more than 20,000 crossovers.
It makes sense, then, that the Escape PHEV would be delayed. The last thing Ford would want to do is recall a vehicle shortly after its debut; not only would that cause more headaches for Ford, it wouldn’t exactly boost consumer confidence in the vehicle. Escape PHEV production has already been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Ford likely wants to make sure everything is pitch-perfect before assembly begins in earnest at its Louisville, Kentucky facility.
The Ford Escape PHEV is part of the auto industry’s push to electrify its mainstream offerings. Competing with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 Prime, the Escape PHEV packs a 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery that should provide 37 miles of electric range on a full charge, which takes 3.3 hours on a 240-volt Level 2 charger. It’s also going to be pretty darn affordable, with the base model sliding in under $35,000 including destination.