Ford tests plug-in hybrid version of Escape crossover, may follow with Explorer, Focus, Transit plug-ins

Ford Motor Co. is boldly going where it’s gone before by testing a new round of plug-in hybrid crossover SUVs.

The Dearborn, Michigan automaker is testing prototypes of a plug-in hybrid version of its Escape compact crossover SUV, with a model ready to show to the public as early as next year, according to a report from Inside EVs.

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It will join the Fusion Energi and C-Max plug-in hybrid vehicles in the Blue Oval’s lineup.

There’s scant detail about the Escape plug-in’s engine specs, price or range, but the green crossover comes after Ford posted a recent surge in green-car sales, with an increase of 56 percent this year.

The plug-in hybrid Escape will join Ford’s lineup of Fusion and C-Max plug-in hybrid cars as the automaker expands its green car offerings.

(Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Inside EVs also reported that the Escape may soon be followed by plug-in versions of the Focus sedan, Explorer SUV and Transit cargo van in both North America and Europe according to trademark applications submitted by Ford.

This is the second time Ford has tested a plug-in hybrid Escape prototype. A decade ago, the Dearborn, Michigan automaker gave a little under two dozen Escape plug-ins to Southern California Edison to test as fleet vehicles, which at the time, boasted a 30-mile all-electric range. Unfortunately, those crossovers never ended up making it to production. Now that demand for plug-in hybrid versions of SUVs and crossovers have surged, it appears to be the right time to electrify the lineup.

A recent uptick in green car sales has given Ford enough incentive to test more PHEVs in the coming years.

(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The plug-in hybrid crossover, which is expected to hit Ford dealerships in time for the 2020 model year, will most likely replace the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The C-Max plug-in was the center of scrutiny back in 2012 when it was discovered in a Consumer Reports test that the fuel economy numbers put up by the eco-wagon – along with the 2013 Fusion plug-in hybrid – did not match real-world conditions, with fuel economy ratings inflated by as much as 20 percent. As a result, Ford compensated customers and adjusted the C-Max’s window sticker figures to more accurately indicate the hatchback’s fuel numbers.

The electrified version of the Escape will be the only plug-in hybrid crossover in its segment, as the Nissan Rogue and Toyota Rav4 hybrids don’t have plug-in capability.