The Ford Escape Hybrid is the first commercially available SUV HEV. It uses a Series-Parallel power-train similar to the Toyota Prius. While Ford used some of Toyota's HEV patents, the Escape was designed independently of the Prius, and therefore its technical details are very different from the Prius. Algorithms and codes used in Prius PHEV conversion are useless in Escape PHEV conversion. The Escape lends itself to PHEV conversion, because it is a strong HEV, meaning that its electric motor is capable of a significant portion of its traction. More information about the non-PHEV Escape is found in the Ford Escape Hybrid page.
Escape PHEV conversions are more expensive than Prius conversions because they are heavier and less aerodynamic vehicles. As such more energy is required to operate them so they require more battery capacity to match the All-electric range (AER) of smaller vehicle. Even so there are legitimate needs for such vehicles depending on the load carrying requirements and more challenging terrains which some people must deal with regularly. In the end PHEV technology is just as applicable to such heavier SUVs and Trucks. In fact the superior torque of electric power-trains may be preferable in such vehicles.
A major push towards conversion of the Escape came from NYSERDA's New York State Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Technology Initiative, whose Phase 1 granted contracts to 3 companies to convert the Escape. These companies are working on Escape PHEV conversions.
- Hymotion, first one to announce a conversion, offered just to fleets; winner of a NYSERDA contract to make 1 conversion. Converted a few vehicles. No longer offering Escape conversions.
- Hybrids-Plus, winner of a NYSERDA contract to make 1 conversion. Currently the only company offering Escape PHEVs. Nine conversions to date, and actively taking more orders.
- Electrovaya, winner of a NYSERDA contract to make 1 conversion. Not actively doing any more Escape conversions.
Individuals have also converted Escape SUVs.
- Jim Bohorquez, formerly of Mesa Power, has converted a standard Ford Escape (not a Hybrid) to a parallel PHEV, by disconnecting the rear axle from the engine and driving it with an electric motor. The motor is powered with NiMH cells recycled from Prius PHEV conversions. The battery is charged exclusively from the power grid, through a Mesa Power UPS charger.
Where Escape PHEVs are
- Electrovaya - First delivery to NYSERDA(Albany, NY), Aug '07
- Hybrids Plus - Second delivery to NYSERDA(Albany, NY), Sept 25 2007
Anecdotal evidence gathered by Hybrids-Plus' sales department shows that SUV owners' main rationale to wanting to convert a Hybrid SUV to PHEV is environmental. Yet, an NREL study shows that the environment would be better served by people driving an efficient, standard sedan than an SUV, albeit a PHEV one. The availability of PHEV SUVs would actually be environmentally more harmful than not having them, as it would allow more and more drivers to use a false environmental rationale to continue buying SUVs over buying more efficient sedans. While there are certainly valid uses for Trucks and SUVs those who don't honestly need such vehicles would be better served by choosing a more appropriate car for their needs. --DavideAndrea 06:41, 24 December 2006 (CDT)
- SUV Owner's rational: I want an AWD vehicle capable of moving my entire family and all the stuff (bicycles, scooters, surfboards) that I regularly transport on a daily basis. It also needs to be able to get us out camping and skiing. I'd happily make do with something like a PHEV Subaru Forester, but such a thing doesn't exist. A study that shows that the environment would be better off using a tricycle might be accurate, but entirely irrelevent.
- My personal take is that while all individuals have the right to act irresponsible by driving large vehicles with more capabilities than they will ever fully utilize, if such vehicles could be plugged in then at the very least there is the potential for them to be partially or entirely fueled from clean domestic resources. As such the driver of an Electric SUV that will never see a snow drift or mud puddle could act irresponsibly with less impact on other people and our common environment. The same could be said for sports cars that will never see a race track, road course, or drag strip. In the end everyone wants an electric vehicle with more Torque and quicker acceleration which uses far less energy, the problem is that they just don't know how much they want them yet. --Rjf 06:35, 7 July 2007 (CDT)
- For the individual who feels it is “irresponsible” to drive an SUV, having an attitude that ignore the facts that some SUV are justified to use does not drive the research, the size and fuel economy of mid sized SUV like the Ford Escape are the perfect type of vehicles for PHEV. With the larger cargo capacity they can take a larger capacity of batteries, and with the larger roof size, solar cells can be added to supply some charge. Once again ignoring the facts and trying to demean other solutions is not the way for alternative solutions to develop. --Anonymous 10:53, 16 December 2007 (CDT)
The Escape PHEV TechInfo has a wealth of useful information regarding the conversion of an Escape Hybrid.
- 2008.03.26 - autobloggreen.com - ABG First Impression: Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid w/Video
- 2007.12.12 - JayLenosGarage.com - Ford's Plug-in Hybrid - The Ford Escape
- 2007.12.05 - engadget.com - Ford delivers first of 20 plug-in hybrids in California
- 2007.08.09 - Electrovaya Delivers Plug-In Escape Hybrid to NYSERDA
- 2007.07.09 - Ford, Calif. utility to develop plug-in hybrids - Project aimed at speeding up production of fuel-efficient vehicles
- 2006.08.15 - Ford Bold Moves Website Includes PHEV Proponent fordboldmoves.com 
- 2006.06.30 - Ford Drops Focus on Hybrids, Shifts to Biofuels
- 2006.05.11 - CalCars-News - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/calcars-news or CalCars_Maillist:
- Ford Considering plug-in hybrids: shareholders meeting reports - Y:393 or CalCars_Maillist:2006./5./15
- Proposed "partnership for Ford to take the lead on innovation in plug-in hybrids" - Y:394 or CalCars_Maillist:2006./5./18
- Our Press Release Welcoming Ford's Statement of "Keen" - Y:395 or CalCars_Maillist:2006./5./19
- Bill Ford's comments when asked about plug-in hybrids at shareholders meeting - Y:400 or CalCars_Maillist:2006./5./24
- Blogs echo CalCars/Frank request to Ford to allow pilot program - Y:405 or CalCars_Maillist:2006./5./29
- 2006.05.12 - evworld.com - Bill Ford Urged to Commit Company to Develop Plug-In Hybrids
- 2006.05.13 - autoblog.com - CONFIRMED: Ford considering plug-in Escape Hybrid
- 2006.05.11 - theautochannel.com - Ford Shareholder Meeting Sprited, Plug-In Hybrids Revealed