Ford today announced that its new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will be priced at $35,180—exactly the same as the standard gasoline version.
The MKZ Hybrid is a luxury variant of the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is priced at $28,825. Both vehicles have a 156-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled with an electric motor to produce a total 191 horsepower, and deliver fuel-economy ratings of 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway.
This is the second major sign in the past week that hybrids are headed to the heart of the mainstream market. The other news is that Honda, starting next year, will only offer the hybrid version of the Honda Civic in Japan, and will stop selling the gas-powered Civic in the company’s domestic market.
Kiss Hybrid Premium Goodbye
The consistent criticism levied against hybrids is their additional cost compared to similar conventional vehicles. Hybrid critics acknowledge that gas-electric cars save gas, but they say the additional cost—in some cases, thousands of dollars more—means that consumers will not recoup the premium during their ownership period. That argument is erased if the hybrid version is offered at the same price as the conventional gas-powered car—or if the premium is only a couple hundred dollars. The hybrid premium argument is similarly erased if a popular high-volume vehicle is only offered as a hybrid.
James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, told Detroit News, “It’s very big news and I give Ford thumbs up for making it happen…The price difference is being washed away.”
Perhaps it’s easier for Ford to offer price parity on a low-volume luxury vehicle like the MKZ, than it would be for a big seller. Nonetheless, hybrid sales could skyrocket if other carmakers offer hybrids with little or no price premium—especially if gas prices climb.
Why would a shopper buy the lower-mpg version of a car if the higher-mpg hybrid costs the same?