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Ford set to replace 75% of N.A. lineup in 2 years

Ford said it plans to introduce a small off-road SUV as part of a plan to replace 75 percent of its North American lineup by 2020. The company has not given the vehicle a name yet.

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. says it aims to supplant Toyota Motor Corp. as the top seller of hybrid vehicles in the U.S. in three years as part of a dramatic reshaping of its lineup to focus heavily on utility vehicles and pickups.

The automaker plans to add two off-road SUVs and create hybrid or electric versions of its other utilities with the expectation that light trucks will account for nearly seven out of every eight vehicles it sells in 2020.

The automaker on Thursday said it would replace more than 75 percent of its North American lineup and add four nameplates within the next two years. It said the product blitz would reduce the average age of its fleet to 3.3 years from 5.7, giving it the industry's freshest lineup among full-line automakers.

By 2020, Ford expects pickups, utilities and vans to be 86 percent of its sales, up from about 70 percent today. It will have eight utilities in North America, up from six today.

Ford plans to offer a hybrid variant -- either a traditional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or both -- on every new utility it adds or redesigns moving forward. The automaker expects to overtake Toyota in hybrid sales by 2021. Ford is currently No. 2.

"We're moving past hybrids as a science project," Jim Farley, Ford's president of global markets, told reporters during an event at the automaker's product development center. "They're an accepted, reliable technology, and we want to make them as emotional and valuable as the desirable EcoBoost."

The announcements followed months of pressure by analysts and investors who have asked for more concrete proof of Ford's plans to cut costs and transform its business. Wall Street and industry observers in recent months have criticized Ford as having an outdated product portfolio that, outside of the F series and Mustang, relies too heavily on low-margin cars and older SUVs.

"Our passion for great vehicles is stronger than ever," Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. "This showroom transformation will thrill customers, drive profitable growth and further build toward our future of smart vehicles for a smart world."

 
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