* Ford Motor Company is the only American auto manufacturer with full hybrid vehicles on the road today with the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids.
* Real world fuel economy improved for 2008 models by as much as 3 mpg for front-wheel drive models in city driving.
* The 2008 Escape and Mariner Hybrids qualify for Federal income tax credits of up to $3,000 ?the highest of any hybrid.
* The Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids are turning Hollywood green, attracting a wide range of television and movies stars.
* Travelers Insurance offers hybrid drivers in several states discounts of up to 10 percent on certain coverages.
* Ford invested $100 million in the Kansas City Assembly Plant for production of the 2008 Escape and Mariner, including hybrid models.
* More Ford hybrids coming: Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan launch in 2008.

DEARBORN, Mich., March 19, 2007 ? In 2004, Ford Motor Company introduced the world?s first hybrid from an American automaker and the world?s first hybrid SUV, the Ford Escape Hybrid. Today, the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid has a new bolder design, numerous engineering refinements that deliver even better real world fuel economy and the highest Federal income tax credits available on any hybrid ? up to $3,000.

The new 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid shares all of the technical improvements and value, but offers its own modern styling. In addition, insurance discounts of up to 10 percent are available in many states on both models.

?Ford is committed to hybrid and other powertrain technologies as part of our global strategy to deliver improved fuel economy to our customers, lower emissions and energy security,? said Nancy Gioia, director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid programs. ?Both the Escape and Mariner Hybrids have been great successes, and we look forward to adding to our hybrid fleet with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids launching next year.?

Since being introduced in 2004, Ford hybrids have achieved increased sales each year, with 2006 total sales reaching just beyond 22,500. In the first two months of 2007, both the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrid models have had higher sales than the same period last year.

Ford Hybrid Technology ? How It Works

The 2008 Escape and Mariner Hybrids feature a standard 2.3-liter DOHC 16-valve Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor. The gasoline engine produces 133 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 124 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. The electric motor produces 70 kw @ 5,000 rpm and 330V maximum voltage. The net result is 155 horsepower with 0-60 times comparable to a 200 horsepower V-6 engine and a boost in city-driving fuel economy of nearly 75 percent. A smooth-shifting, electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is the only available transmission on the hybrid model.

For 2008, engineers made revisions to software in the control system to improve transparency, or the transition between gasoline and electric operation. The transition from all-electric to gasoline power to a combination of the two is now even more seamless and virtually imperceptible to the driver. The four-wheel-disc regenerative brakes have also been retuned to provide better feel.

Both models continue to be ?full? hybrids. This means that, unlike other "mild" hybrid vehicles, Escape and Mariner Hybrid can run on 100 percent electric power up to about 30 mph, maximizing in-city fuel economy. Both automatically switch between pure electric power, pure gasoline engine power or combined operation of the two to maximize efficiency and performance.

Full hybrids achieve their greatest improvement in fuel economy during stop-and-go driving where the electric motor is most efficient. The Escape and Mariner Hybrid models provide approximately 75 percent better fuel economy than the conventional Escape V-6, and have a range of 500 miles on a single tank of gas, in city driving.

Highest Hybrid Tax Credit

The 2008 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids achieved increases in ?real world? fuel economy performance, when evaluated under the new fuel economy measurement standards instituted by the EPA for all 2008 model year vehicles.

The fuel economy improvements are mainly due to improved aerodynamics, a new electronic power steering system, and a more efficient hybrid battery temperature management system. These enhancements have delivered an increase of 3 mpg in city driving and 1 mpg in highway driving for front-wheel drive (FWD) hybrid models, for an EPA-certified 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway rating, making these models the most fuel efficient SUVs in the world. The four-wheel drive (4WD) versions of Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid are rated at 29 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

With these improvements come benefits to the customer including increased tax credits for a hybrid purchase. The Escape and Mariner Hybrids have the highest available Federal tax credit of any hybrid on the road today. The Federal tax credits for the 2008 Escape and Mariner Hybrid FWD models increases to $3,000 (up $400) and the 4WD models are eligible for $2,200 (up $250). The next closest hybrid competitor?s tax credit is $650 less, and the next closest hybrid SUV is $1,700 less.

In addition to the benefits of increased tax credits, hybrid buyers in the states of California, New Jersey, Texas, New York, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Washington can qualify for discounts on their insurance. Travelers, one of the largest providers of personal insurance products in the United States, offers hybrid drivers discounts of up to 10 percent on certain coverages. The company estimates their hybrid policy business grew by 200 percent in 2006.

Hollywood Going Green With Ford Hybrids

The Ford Escape Hybrid is turning Hollywood green, attracting a wide range of stars including Emmy® award winner and Oscar® nominee Alfre Woodard, versatile TV, film and theatre star Blair Underwood as well as up-and-coming performers such as Lizzie Caplan (CBS? The Class) and Tyler Hilton (The CW?s One Tree Hill). Grammy ® winner Melissa Etheridge and comedy legend Chevy Chase also are among the celebrities that can be found behind the wheel of the first American-built hybrid.

Hybrid Manufacturing

Ford invested $100 million in the Kansas City Assembly Plant for production of the 2008 model of Escape and Mariner. The investment included training, equipment and tooling such as new hood and liftgate subassembly systems as well as upgraded materials and processes to reduce wind and road noise.

Efficient and innovative manufacturing processes and specially trained employees at Kansas City Assembly Plant allow the company to build the hybrid on the same production line as conventional SUVs.

The plant accommodates installation of unique Escape Hybrid and Mariner Hybrid components at normal line speed. Among the hybrid components are temperature management unit, the electric battery pack, in-dash electrical outlet, drivers-side rear-quarter panel window, regenerative braking system, power cables, steering rack, powertrain, DC-to-DC converter, hybrid-badged doors, cooling system and engine cover.