Ford, the company that brought you the gas-guzzling, behemoth Excursion SUV, has unveiled a gasoline-electric hybrid Escape sport-utility, which will trickle into fleets beginning this fall and be offered to consumers beginning in the first or second quarter of 2004. Ford claims that the Escape Hybrid's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, 300-volt battery, and 65-kilowatt electric motor provide acceleration comparable to the regular Escape's optional 201-hp V-6 engine while delivering 35 to 40 mpg in the city. The Escape Hybrid will meet California SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) and PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) standards. Ford also claims that its hybrid-electric system is more sophisticated than those of competitors because it has a larger storage battery and the capability of driving on electric power alone. The price premium over a regular Escape, Ford says, will be roughly equivalent to the savings in fuel the Escape Hybrid will provide.
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