Ford is claiming its new 2013 C-Max Energi is the most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid on the market in yet another salvo against hybrid leader Toyota.
Ford said the C-Max Energi has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as getting the equivalent of 108 m.p.g. in city driving and a combined city/highway EPA rating of the equivalent of 100 m.p.g.
The Dearborn automaker points out that is 5 m.p.g. better than its main competitor: the Toyota Prius plug-in. It also beats the Chevrolet Volt by 2 m.p.g. in full electric mode. Next year, Honda plans to sell an Accord plug-in hybrid estimated to get 100 m.p.g. or better.
C-Max is an all-new nameplate for Ford in North America but the crossover also is sold in Europe, as well as a larger version called the Grand C-Max. In the U.S., only the smaller C-Max hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid are going on the market. It is a dedicated hybrid family with no conventional gasoline equivalent.
The C-Max hybrid went on sale last month and the $29,995 (after federal tax credits) Energi plug-in will follow next month. Both are built at the Michigan Assembly Plant that also makes the Ford Focus.
The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid has larger batteries that can be charged by plugging the vehicle into an electrical outlet or a charging station. The car can operate in electric-only mode, as a hybrid using a combination of batteries and gasoline engine or run on the gas engine to save the battery pack. There is an EV button on the center stack to choose the mode.
Not only must Ford work to gain name recognition for the new C-Max family, but the two hybrids must compete against the Prius, which dominates the sector with about 51% of total U.S. hybrid sales. Ford hybrids had about 9.5% of the market in 2011 but that figure has fallen to 4% with the loss of a hybrid version of the Escape. Ford hopes to fill that void with the C-Max.
Ford claims customers will save nearly $7,000 in fuel costs over five years with the C-Max Energi compared with the average new vehicle.
In California, where gas prices hit a record $5 a gallon this month, Ford thinks the Energi plug-in will attract buyers trading in for substantial savings.
"With $5-per-gallon gasoline, C-Max Energi customers essentially will pay $1.25 per gallon for the same distance traveled compared with average vehicles estimated to achieve 23 m.p.g.," said John Davis, chief nameplate engineer for the C-Max Energi.
The C-Max is expected to sell well in coastal and southern states.
Ford will offer a second plug-in with the Fusion Energi that is to go on sale early next year and is projected to be certified at the equivalent of 100 m.p.g. or better.
The C-Max hybrid gets 47 m.p.g.
More Details: Comparing the plug-ins
Plug-in hybrids are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station and store electricity to rely less on the vehicle's gasoline engine.
Here are fuel economy equivalents of the main plug-ins:
--Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid: 95 m.p.g. in combined city/highway driving
--Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric: 98 m.p.g. combined.
--Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid: 100 m.p.g. combined.
The C-Max family
There are two models: a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. There is no gasoline version.
The C-Max hybrid went on sale last month. The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid goes on sale next month.
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