Ford has launched a hybrid version of its Lincoln MKZ on the first press day of the New York International Auto Show.

As the first hybrid in the upmarket Lincoln range, the MKZ hybrid signals Ford's intention to roll out hybrid vehicles across its entire portfolio to compete with hybrid models from foreign brands. The car is expected to deliver 41 miles per gallon (5.73 l/100km) in the city, 6 mpg more than its closest competitor the Lexus HS 250h.

In electric only mode, the MKZ can travel up to 47 mph (76 km/h) before the 2.5 litre gasoline engine kicks in - fast enough for most urban driving. The car is aimed solidly at upscale consumers, featuring an "eco-friendly" genuine wood trim sourced from well managed forests.

"Today's luxury customers do not want to make sacrifices. Lincoln has found a way to deliver a luxury sedan with the comforts they expect, the technology they want and the environmental responsibility society demands," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president for Global Product Development.

Ford says that the vehicle will go on sale in the US in fall 2010, although pricing for the hybrid has not been confirmed.

The new MKZ is among the earliest of several luxury product announcements expected at the New York International Auto Show. Mercedes is set to launch the new E-class wagon, whilst Infiniti is also preparing to launch its QX56 SUV.

The show is open to the public April 2-11 at the Jacob K Javits Convention Center in New York.


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