The car meant to kickstart Ford Australia’s push into hybrid and electric vehicles has been delayed.

    The 2021 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid (PHEV) won’t be in Australia until late in 2021, around 12 months after originally planned. The petrol-powered Escape range is currently rolling out in local showrooms.

    “We are currently facing supply challenges with the Escape PHEV, and while timing is not yet confirmed we do anticipate that it will be late 2021 before it arrives in Australia and New Zealand,” Ford Australia communications boss Matt Moran this morning told media.

    “We will continue to work with our global counterparts and if we can bring it earlier we will.”

    MORE: 2021 Ford Escape launching with drive-away deals

    After going on sale earlier this year in Europe, the Escape PHEV was removed from sale in August to correct a problem with overheating lithium-ion batteries. The company urged owners not to charge their cars, and to drive in EV Auto mode. Four fires were reported.

    Last week, Reuters reported Ford is delaying American production of the plug-in hybrid SUV to next year as it works to fix the problem.

    James Hughes, vehicle line lead for the Ford Escape, today said “likely by the end of this week or early next week there will be some announcements that will come from Ford of Europe that will clarify the current status, and will also provide the projections of the supplier quality improvements that we’re making to mitigate the current situation”.

    MORE: Ford Escape PHEV timing up in the air

    Ford Australia said the cars destined for Australia and New Zealand haven’t been built or shipped yet, and therefore aren’t affected by the recall.

    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.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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