The plug-in hybrid version of Ford’s Escape compact SUV will be able to cover 37 miles on battery power alone, and hundreds more for long trips using its conventional engine.

The 2020 Escape plug-in hybrid goes on sale this summer. Prices start at $33,040, excluding destination charges.

The EPA rates the Escape hybrid’s combined city/highway fuel economy at 41 mpg operating as a conventional hybrid with its electric motor and gasoline engine. Plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs, are a sort of midway between 100% electric vehicles and conventional hybrids, which use both gasoline and electric power to reduce emissions.

The Escape PHEV’s 37 miles in EV mode should let most owners do normal daily driving without using any gasoline. Its 2.5L gasoline engine and conventional hybrid system allow it to go farther and refuel quickly on long highway drives.

The Escape PHEV will compete with the Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV SUV that goes on sale later this year. The EPA hasn’t rated the RAV4 Prime’s electric range and fuel economy yet, but Toyota says it should go 39 miles on electric power. RAV4 Prime pricing hasn’t been announced.

Plenty of cargo space

The Escape PHEV has 209 horsepower and front-wheel drive. The lithium-ion battery under the floor of its rear seat can be charged fully in 3.3 hours with a 240-volt current and 10-11 hours with standard 120v household current.

That keeps the battery from intruding on the SUV’s cargo space. The Escape PHEV has four times as much cargo space and 11 miles more electric range than the Fusion Energi midsize sedan that was Ford’s previous plug-in.

Ford builds the Escape PHEV alongside conventionally powered Escapes in Louisville, Kentucky. There also will be a PHEV version of the Lincoln Corsair compact SUV, which is also built in Louisville. Pricing, range and fuel economy for the Corsair SUV will be revealed later this year.

The Escape PHEV has four drive modes:

• Automatic, in which the vehicle switches from electric to gasoline power depending on driving conditions.

• EV Now, which uses only the battery until it’s depleted.

• EV Later, which uses gasoline power and saves electricity for later, for instance when you’re driving in the city.

• EV Charge mode, which uses some of the engine’s power to charge the battery for EV driving later.

- Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press


Ford, GM, FCA to keep many white-collar employees working remotely

Non-manufacturing salaried workers at the Detroit Three are not returning to their office jobs anytime soon.

At Ford, the majority of U.S. non-manufacturing employees won’t return to the office before September, a Ford spokesman said.

That’s pushed back from Ford’s previous plan to bring them back in July.

In GM’s case, there will be no single “set date” for a return to workplaces. GM is in no hurry to rush workers back to their offices given that working remotely is working well in most cases. GM said the timing and the number of salaried workers who return to workplaces will vary due to local guidelines, business needs and the implementation of GM’s return-to-the-workplace safety protocols, a GM spokesman told the Free Press.

At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, most salaried workers who can work from home will continue to do so, but a small number of FCA employees in the testing area have returned to their work site.

“Our cadence of welcoming employees back to their workspace will take place slowly and responsibly, as we bring people back in deliberate waves through the summer,” said FCA spokeswoman Shawn Morgan.

In March, as the coronavirus pandemic proliferated, the Detroit Three ordered that all employees whose jobs could be done remotely do so. The companies idled all North American factories later that month, but have brought most of the hourly workforce back and resumed production starting on May 18.

- Jamie L. LaReau/Detroit Free Press


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