What do a global engineering and consulting company, a Michigan technical university, and a 91-year-old Texas man have in common?
Answer: All three are "greening" U.S. roadways with Ford hybrid vehicles – and helping Ford set a new record for hybrid sales in a year in which overall industry demand for the gas-electric vehicles was down.
Ninety-one-year-old Bill Casselberry, of San Angelo, Texas, is living proof that it’s never too late to go green. In September, he traded in his 2006 Toyota Camry for a 2010 Fusion Hybrid.
"The main reason I wanted to buy the Fusion Hybrid is that I’m concerned about all the greenhouse gases we’re putting into the air, and I wanted to do my part to reduce the negative effect on our atmosphere," he said. "If we don’t do something now, future generations are not going to have a world to live in."
Casselberry says he’s thrilled with his new car.
"I love it," he exclaimed. "The only problem is that I’m 91 years old, and I don’t get to drive it as much as I’d like to."
Strong sales of the Fusion Hybrid show that many customers share Casselberry’s enthusiasm for Ford’s newest addition to its hybrid lineup. Introduced in March of this year, the new Fusion Hybrid represents 45 percent of all Ford hybrid sales for 2009.
In addition to the Fusion, Ford’s longest-running hybrid nameplate – the Escape Hybrid – continues to attract customers to the Ford brand.
Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, operates a North American fleet of approximately 300 vehicles, which includes 22 Escape Hybrids.
"Our company is always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint," said Rod Cramer, fleet manager, Black & Veatch. "The Escape Hybrids also play a major role in showing our employees and clients how serious our commitment is to the environment that we all share."
According to Cramer, the Escape hybrids enable the company to save money through greater efficiency. The vehicles also have had a positive impact on employees.
"The excitement we caused throughout the company when we started to place them out in the field was electric," he said. "Our professionals really like the versatility the vehicle provides with features like a comfortable seating compartment, user-friendly equipment and the ability to handle off-road requirements."
Michigan Technological University (MTU) recently replaced four gas-powered SUVs in its 70-vehicle fleet with new Ford Escape Hybrids.
"Our goal is to go green one vehicle at a time," said Pete Pelissero, manager of MTU Fleet Services, adding that MTU plans to replace five more gas SUVs with Escape Hybrids in the next 12 months and swap all of the university’s sedans, SUVs and minivans for hybrids within the next five years.
"The issue to go with the Escape hybrids was to make our point of talking the talk and walking the walk," he said. "We want to lead by example, and show the rest of the country that we are serious about going green. It won’t happen overnight, but we will get there."
Ford hybrids on track for record sales for 2009
Despite a 11 percent decline in hybrid sales across the industry, Ford’s year-to-date hybrid sales are up 67 percent over the same period last year. And the company is on track to set a new hybrid sales record for 2009.
"Hybrid customers increasingly are considering Ford," said George Pipas, Ford sales analyst. "And we are seeing a growing number of conquest sales, many of them from customers coming from import brands, mostly Toyota and Honda."
According to Pipas, the fuel economy message associated with hybrid vehicles resonates well with import customers.
"That, to me, is the significance of offering such high quality, fuel-efficient vehicles," he said.
"The hybrid technology is introducing us to a whole new community of customers who might have otherwise never visited a Ford showroom."
The newest additions to the Ford hybrid stable – the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids – are strengthening sales. Both vehicles deliver an EPA estimated 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, topping the Toyota Camry by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway and making them the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans on the road.
And the Fusion Hybrid has received a number of important third-party endorsements. The entire Fusion lineup – including the hybrid model – won this year’s prestigious Motor Trend Car of the Year® award. The Fusion Hybrid also was honored as one of Car and Driver magazine’s "10 Best" cars for 2010.
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.