KANSAS CITY, MO — As gas prices continue to hold steady at a record high between $2 and $3 per gallon across the United States, Kansas City is poised to lead the next generation of automobiles as the nation's only city currently slated to assemble two hybrid models. Ford Motor Co. selected its Kansas City plant for the production of its Ford Escape Hybrid SUV in 2004, making it the first U.S.-made hybrid and the first hybrid SUV. General Motors also recently awarded its Kansas City assembly plant with the production of its hybrid Malibu, scheduled for release in 2007. Beginning in 2007, GM will offer its Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) hybrid system, which will achieve fuel savings of 10 percent in its Chevrolet Malibu sedan. If successful, the system could be readily available on other mid-size models as demand warrants. "The fact that both Ford and GM have selected Kansas City sites for the production of hybrid vehicles is a testament to the level of technology and the capacity of the Kansas City workforce," said Bob Marcusse, president and CEO, Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC). Brett Smith, director of product and technology forecasting at the Center for Automotive Studies in Ann Arbor, Mich., recently told The Kansas City Star, "... having two hybrids in a region, one in production and one announced, is a pretty unique situation."

Originally posted on Fleet Financials