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.
Assembled in Michigan, the Ford C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi will utilize modern and upgraded lithium-ion batteries developed by Ford. Each innovative system is made to maximize the use of superior quality components including the control board framework that has demonstrated impressive performance in Ford's line of advanced hybrid vehicles.
Lithium-ion batteries offer several advantages as compared to the nickel-metal-hydride batteries that provide power to modern hybrid cars. Generally, they are up to 30 percent more compact and 50 percent more lightweight, which make it ideal to pack in a vehicle, and can be upgraded to maximize power in boosting acceleration or in increasing energy to lengthen driving distance.
With the efficient and advanced features of its compact battery system, the C-MAX Energi will operate on daily charging as it enhances its all-electric range. Unlike other hybrid cars, it can easily be fully recharged on a 120-volt power source overnight.
A 100% battery charge in C MAX Energi reduces the use of fuel and allows owners to drive on electric power all day.
Upon start-up, the Ford C-MAX Energi will function on a charge-depletion mode, which allows the car to operate on electric power. When the battery gets depleted or other similar conditions arise, it automatically switches to charge-sustaining mode to maintain its fuel efficacy.