Ford is hoping to take a slice of the hybrid vehicle market, currently dominated by the Toyota Prius, with its new C-Max Hybrid both in retail and fleet sales fleets. Ford's marketing strategy for the C-Max Hybrid entails attractive pricing and performance. Ford unveiled the 2013 C-Max crossover to journalists in Los Angeles, California, where Priuses dominate the taxi fleets.
Hybrid cars are becoming more popular on L.A. streets and freeways, since a hybrid could crawl along in electric mode with the engine shut off.
According to Michael O'Brien, Ford's electrification marketing manager, they are getting a lot of interest from fleet buyers, including all sectors of the fleet market: commercial, government and rental. O'Brien said that Ford's research shows that retail customers dilly-dally in buying hybrids because they see that they will have to pay more and accept performance concessions.
These obstacles have kept hybrid sales low at just 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. light-vehicle market. O'Brien said that Ford believes it has addressed those concerns with its new C-Max, which has a starting price of $25,995, including shipping. The C-Max received an EPA rating of 47 mpg city/47 highway. A C-Max can reach a top speed of 62 mph in electric-only mode and can go as far as 570 miles on a tank of gasoline.
Dealers have started to order the C-Max Hybrid, which is due to arrive in showrooms in early fall. The initial model will be followed months later by a second model, a plug-in hybrid called the C-Max Energi. Both models will be built in Wayne, Mich. The C-Max is underpinned by Ford's global C-car platform, which is shared with the Escape compact crossover and Focus compact car.