The green leaves are being trim-med back.
In labeling its new generation of hybrid vehicles, Ford Motor Co. is dispensing with some of the subtle signals and technospeak and taking a more descriptive approach.
But the Ford and Lincoln brands are on different paths to that same goal. The Ford brand is surrendering the Energi name that once adorned the now-dead C-Max plug-in hybrid and soon-to-be-discontinued Fusion plug-in. Its upcoming 2020 Escape plug-in will feature a straightforward badge, without the green leaf, while regular hybrid variants of the Escape and 2020 Explorer will retain the green and blue image.
The Lincoln brand is taking a different tack, with plans to call plug-in hybrid versions of the Aviator and Corsair crossovers "Grand Touring," to focus on their performance capabilities, and will mark them with blue-tinged logos.
"We're trying to be really transparent for our customers," Mark Grueber, consumer marketing manager for Ford, told Automotive News. "We're focused on delivering the attributes they care about and marketing it in a way that speaks to their priorities instead of making it more like a science project."
The automaker is banking on better sales for its next wave of hybrids. Jim Farley, Ford's president of new businesses, technology and strategy, has said the company wants to overtake Toyota as the nation's top seller of hybrid vehicles by 2021. It is currently No. 2.
To do so, Ford is investing $11 billion in electrification, with plans to add 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles to its lineup by 2022. Executives have said every utility that is either redesigned or added to its portfolio will come with an electrified option, whether it's a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric.
Executives say they want to electrify their most famous nameplates to help customers who may be on the fence about the technology, including hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150 coming next year.
The 2020 Explorer, unveiled this year, will come with a hybrid powertrain, while the 2020 Escape will feature both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid variant. Both vehicles are due in showrooms this year.
"Hybrid technology has improved so much that you no longer need to make trade-offs in terms of a vehicle's cargo or capability," Grueber said. "Some of the initial hybrids were just about fuel economy, and that's it. Unlike the past, these new vehicles give customers more of the attributes they love."
Lincoln's hybrids are being marketed with a phrase made popular by European sports cars from the 1950s: Grand Touring.