Ford and Southern California Edison (a utility company) will be partnering in a joint initiative to test and demonstrate a fleet of plug-in hybrid electric cars. Ford will give the Californian utility a demonstration fleet of 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid SUVs that will be converted by Ford to become plug-in electric vehicles.
A Ford press release said that as their plug-in hybrid program grows, they will develop a business model not just for Southern California, but potentially nationwide. Environmental advocates, particularly in California, have been pressing automakers to roll out plug-in vehicles capable of running solely on electricity for short distances and recharging at a standard electric outlet.
Ford, which lost $12.6 billion last year, became the first U.S. car maker to introduce a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle when it released the Escape in 2004.
But faced with declining U.S. market share, Ford later backed off ambitious sales targets for hybrids and was criticized by environmental advocates for having lost momentum in the race to develop alternatives to combustion engines.