Ford Motor Co. is delaying the launch of its plug-in hybrid Escape compact crossover to 2021 after thousands of similar vehicles in Europe were recalled for problems involving fires while recharging.
The Escape plug-in hybrid originally was scheduled to go into production this past spring but Ford changed it to summer after the coronavirus pandemic shut factories for two months. Now Ford is pushing it into 2021 as it reviews issues with the European-market Kuga model, which shares parts with the Escape plug-in -- including the battery and engine.
“We’re moving production to next year while we investigate what happened to the Kuga in Europe,” said Mike Levine, a company spokesman. “None have been sold in the U.S.”
Ford’s Louisville, Ky., plant began building a redesigned version late last year. The factory has been turning out conventional gasoline-powered models as well as hybrids that don’t plug in.
The delay in the plug-in Escape’s debut comes amid soft U.S. demand for the small crossover. U.S. sales plunged almost 23 percent in the third quarter and are down 32 percent this year.
“We have some availability problems” with low inventory on certain models, Mark LaNeve, Ford’s U.S. marketing chief, said in an Oct. 2 interview. “We’re managing those vehicles for long-term health from a residual-value standpoint and not highly discounting them compared to the previous generation.”