Ford is doubling down on hybrid pickup trucks

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford plans to double production of its F-150 hybrid pickup trucks in 2024, accelerating the automaker’s shift toward gas-electric powertrains as a hedge against American truck buyers’ reluctance to switch to all-electric vehicles.

Ford said it is preparing to equip 20% of its best-selling models in the U.S. market with gas and electric engines in 2024. For 2024, the hybrid powertrain will be offered at the same price as an equipped truck. The company said that it is equipped with a six-cylinder “EcoBoost” combustion engine.

“We’re building some upside into the production schedule,” Andrew Fricke, vice president of Ford’s Blue unit, told Reuters. Demand for hybrid powertrains, currently offered as a $3,300 option on certain versions of the F-150, has risen to 10% of total F-150 sales, Frick said.

If sales meet Ford’s new forecasts, the F-150 hybrid could become one of the top three best-selling gas-electric models in the United States, competing with Toyota Motor Co.’s RAV 4 compact SUV.

Toyota also offers a hybrid system on its Tundra pickup trucks. About 24% of the 59,735 Tundras sold in the U.S. through June 30 were purchased with hybrid powertrains, according to the automaker’s sales data. Ford sold nearly six times as many F-Series trucks in the same period.

Ford unveiled the redesigned 2024 F-150 lineup Tuesday evening at an event before the Detroit Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday.

Ford’s pivot toward expanding the use of hybrid technology marks a sharp strategic contrast with rival General Motors, which is pursuing an all-electric strategy for its future U.S. vehicle lineup, including Chevrolet and GMC pickup models.

Ford and Toyota are leading the recovery of gas-electric hybrids in the United States.

Electric vehicle sales in the United States are accelerating, but more slowly than industry executives expected, as many consumers balk at higher electric vehicle prices and concerns about driving range and charging. For pickup customers, towing a trailer significantly reduces the driving range of an electric truck.

S&P Global Mobility estimates that hybrid vehicles will more than triple over the next five years, accounting for 24% of new vehicle sales in the United States in 2028.

Big sales of hybrid trucks could help Ford comply with stricter U.S. climate emissions rules if demand for electric vehicles like the F-150 Lightning pickup truck falls short of expectations.

“Every hybrid we sell is more beneficial than a traditional ICE vehicle,” Frick said, using an abbreviation for internal combustion engine.

(Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

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