Ford has been a player in the hybrid vehicle market for years. However, the company is proving that you don’t have to buy a hybrid vehicle to get hybrid-like fuel efficiency with its new 40 mpg 2011 Ford Fiesta. For comparison, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid tops out with a 41 mpg fuel efficiency rating from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is currently in production at the company’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, facility and will be available in North American markets this summer. The vehicle will be available in both a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback model with a starting price of $13,995 for the sedan.

The Fiesta equipped with Ford’s new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission received official EPA fuel efficiency ratings of 40 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city. This is 5 mpg higher than the Honda Fit and 4 mpg better than the Toyota Yaris. Ford was proud to announce that this puts the Fiesta as best-in-class for fuel efficiency.

“The Fiesta achieves its best-in-segment fuel figures thanks to a host of fuel-saving technologies not normally seen at this price level. To increase fuel economy, Fiesta features a new 1.6-liter Duratec® engine with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) that delivers 120 horsepower, an aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and an engine accessory drive system that improves efficiency by reducing the energy it takes to power the air conditioner and alternator.” Source: Ford

The 2011 Ford Fiesta will also be available in a five-speed manual transmission. The official EPA fuel efficiency ratings for the manual version are 37 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city.

One drawback to hybrids, from a purely dollars and cents perspective, is that hybrid vehicles are priced higher than non-hybrids. The Union of Concerned Scientists has recently reviewed what it calls forced upgrades on hybrids and used these figures to determine the true value of hybrid vehicles available on today’s market.

However, when someone is just looking at the financial bottom line of a hybrid vehicle vs. a non-hybrid, they aren’t looking at the entire picture. There are many benefits to owning a hybrid beyond how many years it will take the owner to recoup the premium price paid in fuel savings realized.

For those who can’t get past the math reasons for buying a non-hybrid, you may find the under $14,000 40-mpg 2011 Ford Fiesta a better choice. It isn’t a hybrid but it does have best-in-class fuel efficiency that rivals or even bests some of the hybrids on the road today.