Fire problems solved? Check.
There's one variant of the latest generation Ford Escape still not on sale in the US: the Escape plug-in hybrid. Originally, it was supposed to begin production last spring but was postponed to summertime because of factory shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Then another problem arose. The Escape's PHEV European market twin, the Kuga PHEV, faced a stop-sale order due to some examples catching on fire while charging.
Ford instructed overseas owners not to charge their crossovers and drive them in Auto EV mode only for the time being. The cause has since been determined: a battery cell contamination issue requiring the replacement of the traction battery pack.
Ford Authority now claims that 2021 Escape PHEV production will get underway on April 5 at the Louisville Assembly Plant. Its more luxurious corporate twin, the Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring, is also slated to begin rolling off the assembly line that day. The regular 2021 Escape, meanwhile, is beginning production today, January 4.
The Escape PHEV will come powered by a 2.5-liter Atkinson-Cycle inline-four engined connected to a 14.4-kWh lithium-ion battery for a total output of 209 horsepower. That power will be directed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy will be impressive with an EPA-estimated all-electric 100 MPGe and 37 miles of all-electric driving range. When using gasoline power only, the EPA estimates that fuel economy will be 41 mpg.
The Escape PHEV's arrival can't come fast enough. Through most of last year, Escape sales were down by a troubling 32 percent, though it's certainly possible the onset of the pandemic may have been a factor. Another possible reason is the new internal competition, specifically the all-new Bronco Sport.
Although it shares a platform with the Escape, the Bronco Sport has a boxier, more SUV-like appearance that contrasts with the Escape's wagon look. The Bronco Sport is only now going on sale but has made waves ever since its online debut last July. But the Bronco Sport, at least for now, does not offer a PHEV or even a hybrid variant.