updated 7/17/2006 12:45:45 PM ET 2006-07-17T16:45:45

Ford Motor Co. will invest 1 billion pounds, or about $1.84 billion, in Britain within six years to develop fuel-efficient hybrid cars, a senior executive said Monday.

"We have 9,500 engineers working in the U.K. — about 35,000 employees in total — so this is our investment," Lewis Booth, Ford's executive vice president of European operations, said in a British Broadcasting Corp. radio interview.

Ford reportedly is aiming to produce a Focus model capable of delivering 70 miles per U.S. gallon with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Hybrid vehicles are powered by a combination of internal-combustion engines and batteries that are charged when the vehicles brake.

Ford said last month it would fall short of its goal of producing 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year by 2010.

Chief Executive Bill Ford announced the goal last September, saying that gas-electric hybrid engines would be available in half the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lineup by 2010. The goal of 250,000 hybrids a year would have been 10 times the number that Ford was building at the time.

But in an e-mail to employees last month, he said the company instead would focus on other alternative fuels.

Ford now sells Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid sport utility vehicles. It has said it plans to introduce hybrid versions of the Mazda Tribute SUV in 2007 and the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans in 2008.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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