Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

The Hybrid Ford Maverick Is Suddenly Selling Like Hot Cakes

To the tune of more than half the models delivered in the first quarter.

A Ford Maverick XLT.
Heatmap Illustration/Ford, Getty Images

Americans might remain tepid on electric vehicles. But they are snapping up conventional hybrids.

More than half of the Ford Maverick compact pickup trucks sold last quarter had conventional hybrid engines, the automaker said on Wednesday, a sign of how rapidly hybrids and plug-in hybrids are ascending in the American car market.

Ford sold nearly 20,000 Maverick hybrids during the first three months of 2024, 77% more than during the first quarter of 2023, the automaker said. Those Mavericks made up the majority of the 38,421 hybrids that Ford sold across its line-up last quarter.

“We listened to our customers and want to offer them freedom of choice,” Jim Baumbick, the vice president of product development and operations at Ford, told me in an exclusive interview. “Customers can do the math — a lot of Maverick customers are very focused on value for money.”

The sales success comes as Ford, the domestic automaker that has been most enthusiastic about EVs, has intensified its focus on conventional and plug-in hybrids. On Thursday, Ford announced that it plans to offer a hybrid version of each of its gasoline-burning vehicles by the end of the decade. The company recently added an additional shift at its Hermosillo, Mexico, factory that makes Maverick trucks, and it doubled the production of full-size F-150 hybrid pickups.

In the same announcement, however, Ford also said it would push back the launch of its next-generation electric vehicle, a new three-row electric SUV, from 2025 to 2027. That suggests that the automaker’s current EV offerings — the Ford Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning, and Ford E-Transit delivery van — will remain its flagship electric vehicles for much of the rest of the decade.

“We know the destination: EVs are going to be a much bigger part of our product portfolio in the future,” Baumbick said a day before the announcement. “But we also know the tail on internal combustion-based products is going to be much longer.”

On the one hand, Ford’s sudden success with hybrids is unsurprising. Hybrids are a 20-year-old technology that cuts air pollution, saves on gas costs, and can improve a car’s performance. While hybrids aren’t nearly as good for the climate as purely electric vehicles, they can cut carbon emissions without forcing customers to seek out or install charging stations.


For those reasons, auto experts once predicted that hybrids would percolate across the marketplace like, say, automatic transmission or power steering — they were general-purpose features that would improve any car. But instead they are only now catching on, after the initial electric vehicle boom. Perhaps that’s because hybrids were long seen as the green or environmentally premium choice, and only the arrival of mainstream EVs has defanged hybrids as an option for more drivers.

In the interview, Baumbick noted that adding a hybrid powertrain to a Maverick or F-150 now adds only an extra $1,500 or so to a truck’s suggested retail price. “Our goal from the getgo on Maverick was to take a different approach, and it was all about the value. When we launched, we were really trying to lean into attracting more customers to hybrids, because we knew from all the research we had done that they were looking for value. It was a bit of a departure from how we approached it before as a premium offering.”

That idea of hybrids as premium persists elsewhere in the automaker’s line-up. A conventional gas-burning Ford Escape plug-in hybrid can be bought for as little as $29,495, for instance, while a plug-in hybrid Escape has a suggested retail price of $40,500.

For what it’s worth, Ford also reported strong EV growth in the year’s first quarter, but its raw EV sales totals are lower than its hybrid sales. The company sold 20,223 electric vehicles during the year’s first three months, an increase of 86% over the same period a year earlier.

The Mustang Mach-E, a family-friendly crossover that has emerged as the automaker’s best-performing EV, made up about half of those deliveries; its sales were up 77% over the year prior. The company also sold 7,743 F-150 Lightning models, 80% more than a year earlier. What’s not yet clear is whether these better sales translated into financial returns. The automaker lost tens of thousands of dollars for every EV that it sold last year, and it slashed the price of its most premium EVs further at the beginning of 2024. Ford will announce its quarterly earnings at the end of April.

Even as it has slowed its rollout of EVs, Ford has insisted that it believes they represent its future. The very first line of its press release on Thursday was: “Ford continues to invest in a broad set of EV programs as it works to build a full EV line-up.” But in our conversation, Baumbick compared the reasons a customer might buy a fully electric versus a hybrid full-size F-150 pickup. “If their usage is best suited to an EV, we’ve got an F-150 Lightning,” he said. But “if you’re towing for higher distances or longer weights, it increases demand on charging. That’s where a hybrid can be a perfect tool for the job.”

Here at Heatmap, we’ve argued that Ford should add a plug-in hybrid Maverick to its lineup, too — after all, the Maverick is built on the same underlying platform as the Escape. A semi-electric compact pickup could be the “forever truck” for many Millennials. So I asked Baumbick: With Ford now expanding its hybrid offerings, is there any chance we’ll see a plug-in hybrid Maverick anytime soon? He told me that the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. Hey — that’s better than a straight-up “no.”

Blue
Robinson Meyer profile image

Robinson Meyer

Robinson is the founding executive editor of Heatmap. He was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covered climate change, energy, and technology.

Sparks

We’re Worrying About Hurricanes Wrong

Don’t look at the number of forecasted storms and panic. But don’t get complacent, either.

Hurricane aftermath.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

When is an announcement less an announcement than a confirmation?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2024 hurricane season outlook, issued Thursday morning, might be one such case. For the past several weeks, hurricane agencies around the country have been warning of an extremely active, potentially historic season due to a confluence of factors including the record-warm water in the Atlantic Main Development Region and the likely start of a La Niña, which will make the wind conditions more favorable to Atlantic storm formation. With the Atlantic Hurricane Season set to start a week from Saturday, on June 1, NOAA has at last issued its own warning: There is an 85% chance of an above-average season, with eight to 13 hurricanes and four to seven of those expected to be “major” Category 3 or greater storms.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

A Carbon Border Adjustment Is Gaining Bipartisan Ground

If you haven’t already, get to know the “border adjustment.”

The Capitol.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While climate policy has become increasingly partisan, there also exists a strange, improbably robust bipartisan coalition raising support for something like a carbon tax.

There are lots of different bills and approaches floating out there, but the most popular is the “border adjustment” tax, basically an emissions-based tariff, which, as a concept, is uniquely suited to resolve two brewing trade issues. One is the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which will force essentially everybody else to play by its carbon pricing system. Then there’s the fact that China powers its world-beating export machine with coal, plugged into an electrical grid that is far dirtier than America’s.

Keep reading...Show less
Green
Sparks

It Took More Than 4 Days to Put Out This Battery Fire

The California energy storage facility is just a short hop from the Mexican border.

Cal Fire trucks.
Heatmap Illustration/Screenshot/KUSI-TV

A fire at a battery storage site in San Diego County appears to have been extinguished after burning on and off for multiple days and nights.

“There is no visible smoke or active fire at the scene,” Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency, said in an update Monday morning.

Keep reading...Show less