If you ever had any doubt that hybrids were durable--and many people do--here's a case study to set your mind at ease.
A white base-model 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid has just crossed 500,000 miles, which possibly makes it the highest-mileage Escape Hybrid on the road.
That's much higher than the Escape Hybrids with 300,000 miles of taxi service in San Francisco--at which point they were retired.
Bayer Protective Services, a private security-patrol company in Sacramento, California, owns the hybrid Escape--known as Car 804.
It's part of the company's fleet of Ford Escapes--both hybrid and regular.
And Car 804 remains in active duty, although the company did have the car detailed and tuned up to celebrate its half-million-mile mark.
"The car has had a full life," says company executive Adam Bayer.
But as of today, it's going back into 23-hour-per-day service.
Best of all, Bayer says, the half-million-mile hybrid Escape continues to deliver the consistent gas mileage that made it an attractive buy in the first place: 30 to 35 mpg.
All but one of the 25 vehicles in the company's fleet are Fords of one sort or another, and Bayer Protective Services was one of the first security companies to buy hybrids.
In 2008, the company also bought some non-hybrid Escapes, and a conventional Escape known as car 801 (also white) provides a good comparison to 804.
That vehicle had to have its transmission replaced, costing $3,000, meaning its cost-per-mile was higher even outside of its higher fuel consumption.
The conventional Escape hasn't racked up anywhere near the miles of the hybrid, though.
"No matter how well we take care of the cars," Bayer says, "you can't fix bad drivers before they have an accident."
Thick records binder
As Bayer notes, "We keep copious records on all our vehicles," including "starting and ending mileage, fueling, miles per gallon, and any issues" encountered during a shift.
"Most vehicles have a 3/4-inch or 1-inch binder," he chuckles, but now "804 has a 3.5-inch D-ring binder."
The only modification made to 804 by Bayer on delivery was to add a light bar on the roof, along with a control box inside the car, plus company logos on the exterior.
The company routinely changes the oil in all its vehicles every 7,500 to 10,000 miles, using only synthetic oil.
Bayer notes that the hybrid Escape seemed to require less-frequent brake replacement than the conventional version, although its discs have been resurfaced and it's been fitted with new pads several times.
That's due to the regenerative braking a hybrid vehicle uses to slow the vehicle while recharging the battery pack.
Like any car that's covered half a million miles, 804 has had its share of maintenance over the years:
[NOTE: In response to several reader questions about the replacement of the steering column, Bayer wrote: The first failure occurred at 220,000 miles, and it was [ diagnosed as] a faulty sensor. At the time, Ford told us the only possible repair was full column replacement. There is now an update kit available, which we believe resolves the issue.]