Ford Escape hybrid
David Zalubowski  /  AP file
A 2006 Ford Escape hybrid four-wheel-drive vehicle sits on display outside of a Ford agency in the northwest Denver suburb of Broomfield, Colo. in this file photo. Ford Thursday extended its incentive offer for hybrid SUVs.
updated 4/6/2006 4:06:15 PM ET 2006-04-06T20:06:15

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said it is expanding zero-percent financing to buyers nationwide on the hybrid versions of its Escape and Mercury Mariner sport utility vehicles.

The incentive on the gasoline-electric SUVs was offered last month in California and Washington, D.C., but was expanded effective Monday and runs through July 5, Ford spokesman Monte Doran said.

The offer is good on lease terms of up to five years, Doran said.

Ford added zero-percent financing for gasoline versions of the Escape and Mariner last month, Doran said, and is offering it on hybrids to keep the price of the hybrids about $3,500 above the traditional versions.

"We're really committed to making hybrids mainstream and also keeping hybrids affordable," Doran said.

In March, Ford sold 1,441 Escape hybrids, up nearly 17 percent from February and down about 8 percent from March 2005, Doran said, while 149 Mariner hybrids, which went on sale in October, were sold in March, up 38 percent from February.

The automaker also is setting up a hotline for its dealers to let them know what kinds of government incentives, such as tax breaks and other perks, are available to hybrid owners in their areas.

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