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2021 Ford Escape PHEV launch timing up in the air

An overheating battery in the Ford Kuga PHEV has led the company to expand its European recall, halt sales there, and delay US production of its Escape PHEV twin.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

The Ford Escape PHEV’s European twin, the Kuga PHEV, remains off sale as Ford works to resolve an issue with its battery cells.

The delay has now spread to the United States, where production of the Escape PHEV has been put on hold.

When the plug-in hybrid will arrive in Australia will hasn’t been locked in – but it could be delayed, with Ford confirming the PHEV won’t launch alongside the rest of the Escape range.

“Escape is on track for arrival this quarter, with PHEV set for its own separate launch. We’re working on our Escape PHEV arrival date, as we’re working with the team in Europe and here to ensure that we are fully prepared for our first electrified vehicle in Australia,” Ford Australia today said.

The company had earlier said the Escape PHEV would reach Australian dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year along with the rest of the Escape range.

Reuters reports the company will delay US production of the plug-in hybrid SUV to next year after suspending sales in Europe.

“Because we share components with Kuga PHEV, including battery cells, we are moving production to next year, while we work with the battery cell supplier to resolve the issue affecting Kuga PHEV in Europe,” said a spokesperson from Ford.

Our Escape PHEVs will be sourced from Europe, where 20,500 Kuga PHEV models were recalled last month.

Ford announced in August an overheating lithium-ion battery had resulted in vehicle fires and urged owners not to charge their vehicles and to drive only in EV Auto mode. Four vehicle fires were reported.

Initially, the company said the issue affected only vehicles built prior to June 26, 2020 but it has now extended its recall to all Kuga PHEVs.

Priced from $52,490 before on-road costs, the Escape PHEV will go head-to-head with the Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid, along with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and its upcoming Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV little brother. It could also prove a foil for the hot-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which isn’t available with a plug-in powertrain here.

The Escape PHEV mates a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine to an electric motor and a 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined output is 167kW, and claimed pure-electric range is 50km.

It’ll be available only in mid-range, sporty-looking ST-Line trim but is priced $2900 above the even more comprehensively equipped, petrol-powered Vignale all-wheel drive.

Unlike that model, the PHEV is front-wheel drive only.

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William Stopford
William Stopford

William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel (remember that?), briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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