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Ford delays production of plug-in Escape after fires in Europe

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(CNN) — Ford has delayed production of its new plug-in hybrid Escape until 2021 after SUVs that use the same battery cells were recalled in Europe because several caught fire.

“We are moving production to next year while we work with the suppliers to resolve the issue,” said Ford spokesman Dan Barbossa.

The Kuga, a plug-in hybrid model, has been subject to a recall in Europe because a fault could cause its battery packs to vent hot gas, increasing the risk of overheating and fire.

The Escape shares components including battery cells with the Kuga, Barbossa said. The Kuga is Ford’s most popular SUV in Europe, with 153,800 sold in 2018.

The recalled Kuga models were manufactured between July 2019 and July 2020, according to an EU safety notice. Jay Ward, a spokesman for Ford, said that 20,500 of the vehicles have been recalled. There have been seven cases of fire linked to the issue, but no injuries or deaths, he added.

Ford makes the Escape at a plant in Louisville, Kentucky. The latest model of the small SUV will be sold in two hybrid versions, one of which is a plug-in.

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