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CNN Today

Ford Unveils Fuel-Efficient SUV

Aired April 7, 2000 - 1:16 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it may sound too good to be true: an SUV that gets great mileage. But that's what Ford Motor Company has on the drawing board.

CNN's Ed Garsten reports from Detroit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN DETROIT BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Sport utility vehicles: big, brawny and always thirsty for gasoline. But now Ford has announced plans to build a version of its new SUV, the Escape, that can go a long way between drinks.

RICK EAGLE, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: The vehicle gets approximately 40 miles per gallon, especially in the city.

GARSTEN: The high-mileage version of the Escape, available in 2003, has what's called a hybrid power train, alternates between using an electric motor and internal combustion engine. It'll cost about $3,000 more, but that money buys an SUV owner a clearer conscience.

SAID DEEP, WARD'S AUTO REPORT: There's been so much talk about, well, you're, you know, burning up all our valuable resources, sucking fuel, and all that. Now here's a chance to finally, you know, go on the road and not feel guilty about it.

GARSTEN: The escape will be the largest hybrid on the market so far. Honda's Insight, which went on sale last December, and the Toyota Prius, which will be available in the U.S. later this year, are both small cars. Other automakers also have hybrid cars in the works.

(on camera): Even as the automakers step up their plans to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, the public's appetite for even bigger and more gas-guzzling SUV's hasn't abated, and the carmakers are more than happy to feed that appetite.

(voice-over): Some of the behemoths soon to roll out are the Chevy Avalanche, the Toyota Sequoia, and a version of this Acura concept SUV.

DEEP: Prices have gone up but the sales of SUVs have continued steady and have gone up. And, you know, we've been tracking what's coming out, and by 2005, there will be no less than 70 entries in the SUV segment. GARSTEN: But with SUV's such as the hybrid Ford Escape, buyers will finally be able to choose one that'll go a lot farther between those expensive fill-ups.

Ed Garsten, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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