Ford C-Max Energi PHEV
Ford's newest entry into the plug-in hybrid market is the c-Max
Energi. The shape is described as a compact crossover, and experts
have speculated that it may sell in larger numbers than the
Focus Electric, which will be sold mainly in 19 US markets.
The head of Ford's "global electrification" department
stated that the reality will probably be that the hybrid will
be the only vehicle that sells in any large quantity. He estimates
that about 75% of their sales will be hybrid vehicles, followed
by 20% plug-in hybrids and then 5-10% pure electric vehicles.
The C-Max Energi is seen as a relatively small step for quite
a few consumers, since you can plug it in for your daily drive.
Ford research has shown that, even without the price difference,
customers for their plug-in hybrid will probably be switching
from hybrid cars.
Compare that to the Toyota Prius, which is the king of the
hybrid car market. They have over half the hybrid market to
themselves. Ford executives recently declared that the Energi
will actually have a higher mile per "gallon" equivalent
than the Prius.
The difference is that the Prius is already a well-established
car, and no one expects Ford to trump the Prius in hybrid sales.
But they would like to. They have aimed at success on the scale
of the Prius, because they have similar strategies for electrifying
entire platforms, rather than just one or two cars. Ford also
takes a shot at the Chevy Volt, since the Energi will beat by
100 miles the 400-mile range of the Volt.
Toyota spokespeople don't look worried, but they're not surprised
that Ford is targeting their Prius, since it's far and away
the best-selling hybrid in the world. They take it a step further,
in fact, stating that Toyota has hoped more companies would
follow their lead in marketing hybrid vehicles. In any case,
competition is usually a good thing for the consumer, since
development will be more rapid, the products will be better
and the costs will eventually even out.
The Energi will utilize the same four-cylinder, two liter Atkinson
engines that the C-Max hybrid uses. This is scaled back from
the 2.5 liter engine used in the Ford Fusion hybrid. It will
feature electric air conditioning and an electric water pump,
as they are removing belt-driven accessories. That helps to
decrease the load on the vehicle while it is being driven. The
Energi will also recapture heat from its own exhaust and 95%
of its kinetic braking energy. Ford has done its best at maximizing
the car's efficiency.
Unlike the range extending Chevy Volt, the Ford spokesperson
says that their Energi is a "blended" plug-in hybrid.
The battery discharges in most conditions, but if you ask for
more torque, the gas engine will start if needed and then quickly
Ford also refers to the Energi as a "multi-activity vehicle",
since it seats five. This is another subtle slam on the Chevy
Volt, which only seats four. The vehicle will be marketed to
appeal to early hybrid drivers who agree with "socially
responsible manufacturing". They can make a statement if
they choose the Energi, at least as far as Ford would have it.