Ford’s first Escape plug-in hybrid vehicle is ready to start real-world testing along with electric utility South California Edison. Ford today delivered the first of the 20 research vehicles, which use high voltage lithium-ion batteries and have a fuel-economy figure of 120mpg.

Full charge of the battery takes six to eight hours. The vehicle is not range limited by the amount of charge available in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery because once the charge is depleted the vehicle continues to operate as a standard Ford Escape Hybrid.

The two companies are exploring new business models related to the electrification of vehicles that could help lower the cost of plug-ins and make them more affordable. According to Ford, the cost of the advanced lithium ion batteries is the main factor holding back the roll-out of such vehicles.