DETROIT -- Nancy Gioia, Ford Motor Co.s hybrid chief, doesnt expect sales of gasoline-electric vehicles to spike now that former Vice President Al Gore has snagged a share of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to raise awareness of global warming.
In an interview today with Automotive News, Gioia said the award would probably help raise awareness of the issue. But she said another award Gore snagged in February for his documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, probably had a bigger impact than the Nobel Prize.
I hate to say it, but I think the Academy Awards, seen by millions on television, was probably more of a boost in raising awareness levels. I think the Nobel Prize just reinforces it, she said.
On other topics, Gioia said:
- Ford has put lithium ion batteries on a fast track and is pushing to get the powerful, lightweight batteries into its hybrids.
But Gioia said Ford is not rushing to beat Toyota or any other automaker and wont be first if it means sacrificing safety or reliability. Gioia said Ford has a short list of companies it considers to be leading the race to produce lithium ion batteries. On that list is the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture, Panasonic EV, A123 Systems Inc. and Compact Power.
- Fords next hybrids, the Fusion and Milan, are on time and on budget. They will be launched as planned next summer. Those cars will expand the companys hybrid lineup to five, counting the Mazda Tribute.
- A stop-start system will likely be part of most vehicles in the coming years. A stop-start system can boost fuel economy by about 6 percent.
- Ford likely wont follow General Motors and develop a rear-wheel- drive hybrid transmission for light trucks, similar to the Two Mode unit GM is launching in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs. Gioia said diesel engines make more sense in most of those applications.