DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. says consumers like hybrid vehicles but not the hefty sticker price that most hybrids carry.
That's a major change. Before, it says, consumers doubted the performance and reliability of hybrids.
"When we first launched a hybrid six years ago, many customers were concerned" about the battery, says Sherif Marakby, Ford's director of electrification programs and engineering. Customers asked: "'How long would the battery last?' 'How much does it cost to replace it?'" he says.
But batteries have proved to be long-lasting, Marakby says. It's now imperative to lower the cost of its hybrid system, he says, which will allow Ford to lower hybrid vehicles' sticker prices and boost sales.
"We're seeing that the loyalty rate on hybrids is very high," he says. "We just need people to get used to the technology, bring the cost down and the price down for consumers, and we believe it's only going to go up in terms of sales volume."