European delivery dramas haven’t delayed the Ford Escape PHEV for Australia.

    Four battery fires have forced Ford Europe to temporarily put deliveries of the Kuga PHEV on hold. Owners have been told not to charge the lithium-ion batteries on their cars until further notice. No injuries have been linked to the fires.

    Update, 12:20pm 12/08/20: Ford Australia has confirmed the Escape PHEV’s local rollout won’t be affected by the European fires.

    “All Australian-market Escape PHEVs will be September 2020 builds, so not affected whatsoever,” a spokesperson told CarExpert. “The issue only affects vehicles produced prior to June 26, 2020.”

    Ford Australia says its plug-in hybrid Toyota RAV4 rival is still on track to touch down in Australia during the fourth quarter of 2020, barring any unforeseen Coronavirus-related complications.

    “We’re expecting PHEV sometime in Q4, which has been its arrival ETA for some time,” a Ford Australia spokesperson told CarExpert.

    “Saying that, the current challenges globally given the pandemic have had us caution any timings, as a number of additional factors may influence arrivals during this time.”

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

    Under the skin, the new Escape rides on a variation of the same C2 platform as the Focus hatchback. It’s almost 100kg lighter than the car it replaces, and promises to be stiffer and safer to boot.

    It has a 20mm longer wheelbase than the model it replaces, while the body is 89mm longer and 44mm wider than before.

    As a result, Ford says there’s 43mm more shoulder room and 57mm more hip room up front, and 20mm and 35mm more, respectively, in the rear.

    Ford will be hoping the new Escape finally gives it the tools to take on the all-conquering Toyota RAV4 in one of Australia’s most competitive segments.

    The previous-generation car never hit the sales highs of the RAV4, Mazda CX-5, or Nissan X-Trail, after launching in Australia as a Kuga and being rebranded as Escape at its mid-life facelift.

    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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