(NaturalNews) Only nine months after pledging to build a quarter of a million hybrid cars, Ford is going back on its promise. Instead, chairman and chief executive Bill Ford says the company will commit resources to improving fuel economy and CO2 performance in its conventional motors.
According to a Ford spokesperson, an internal panel of experts analyzed customer interest in hybrid cars and did not feel that there was enough demand to warrant the expense of building 250,000 hybrids. These cars, which run on an electric motor and battery as well as gasoline, cost significantly more to build than ordinary models.
The announcement comes as the Ford's financial woes continue to grow. This week Standard & Poor's downgraded Ford's credit rating and warned that its two most profitable segments -- sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks -- are under pressure. Ford already plans to cut 30,000 jobs by the year 2012, although few details have been given about where reductions will take place.
Environmental groups are not happy about Ford's announcement. This is the second time Ford has changed plans to build more environmentally friendly vehicles -- in 2001, the company backed out of a commitment to improve the fuel efficiency of sport utility vehicles.
Toyota continues to be the leader in hybrid cars. Worldwide, Toyota has sold more than 500,000 hybrids since 1997, and hopes to increase that number to 1 million hybrids each year by the early 2010s. To achieve that goal, Toyota plans to cut the cost of manufacturing hybrid powertrains in half.