Ford has restated the estimated mpg numbers of its C-Max Hybrid twice in two years, and in doing so, it could no longer brag about being more fuel efficient than its main target, the Toyota Prius. That was a headache for its marketers, who somehow managed to find a way to sell Ford’s hybrid-only nameplate.
When Ford launched the C-Max in 2012, the carmaker made its fuel economy numbers – then 47 mpg city/47 highway/47 combined – central to its message to customers. But in the latest marketing push for the C-Max, Ford did away with the mpg numbers, and instead focused on the hybrid as versatile, filled with technology and fun to drive.
Ford recently had a double-page spread in The Week magazine, in which the C-Max is pictured on a road by a beach with words floating in the air above the vehicle. All these words – none mentioning fuel economy-- pertain to one thing about the C-Max: “a fun-to-drive hybrid does exist."
Joe Marini, Ford electrified vehicle consumer marketing manager, remarked that while consumer consider fuel economy as important, they still “don't want to sacrifice real-car feel." He remarked that Ford is pushing to “maximum horsepower” and “maximum technology” for the C-Max hybrid."
While the Prius boasts of higher estimated mpg on its stickers (51 city/48 highway) than the C-Max (42 city/37 highway), Ford says its offering returns 188 hp while the Toyota hybrid offers 134 hp.
Likewise, Ford has adjusted the prices for C-Max SE and the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. It also priced its 2015 C-Max Hybrid SE at $24,995 including shipping, which is almost a bit more affordable than the 2014 Prius V ($27,575, including shipping).
Ford has seen sales of the C-Max drop by a third following the first fuel economy restatement. In the first nine months of 2014, Ford posted a 23-percent dip in sales of the C-Max, including C-Max Energis, to units.