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Ford unveils C-MAX Energi, its first production plug-in hybrid, and another hybrid variant

Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

On the heels officially introducing the Focus Electric last week (earlier post), Ford revealed two next-generation hybrids—including its first production plug-in hybrid (PHEV)—at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid are based on the new Ford C-MAX five-passenger multi-activity vehicle. The plug-in hybrid and third-generation full hybrid leverage Ford’s global C-car platform, powersplit architecture, next-generation driver information features and advanced lithium-ion battery systems.

Targeted to achieve AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) status, C-MAX Energi pairs a high-voltage lithium-ion battery and electric traction motor with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine. This allows it to run in electric mode before using the gasoline engine.

C-MAX Hybrid is targeted to deliver better fuel economy than the 41 mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient sedan in America today. It builds on the powersplit architecture Ford uses in its current hybrids, allowing it to operate in fuel-saving electric mode beyond 47 mph (76 km/h).

Both the C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models will be built alongside the all-new 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich. The plant’s production is powered in part by one of the largest solar energy generator systems in the state. The C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid vehicles sold in Europe in 2013 will be built at Ford’s plant in Valencia, Spain, starting in 2013.

C-MAX Energi will offer more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) of overall driving range using the battery and engine and delivers better charge-sustaining fuel economy than Chevrolet Volt, according to Ford.

The development of Ford’s first production plug-in hybrid leverages more than 200,000 miles of road testing conducted in collaboration with a coalition of 10 utility companies, the US Department of Energy, the New York State Energy Research and Development Administration and the Electric Power Research Institute.

C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid will use advanced lithium-ion battery systems developed and assembled in-house by Ford in Michigan. Each system is designed to maximize use of common components, such as control board hardware that has proven field performance in Ford’s current hybrid vehicles.

On start-up, C-MAX Energi will operate in charge-depletion mode, providing electric driving range. When the battery has been depleted or certain conditions are met, it switches to charge-sustaining hybrid mode for continued optimal fuel efficiency.

Ford worked with a supplier to provide an industry-standard five-point plug for C-MAX Energi (and new Focus Electric) that is ergonomically comfortable to hold as well as durably and distinctively designed. The plug handle uses a matte-finished black rubber for a comfortable, non-slip grip and the plug head is shielded with a glossy white hard plastic to protect the electronics. The Ford Blue Oval trademark helps make the device immediately recognizable.

When the cord set connector is plugged into the vehicle’s charge port, which is located conveniently between the driver’s door and front wheel well, it activates a light ring that loops around the port twice in acknowledgement of connectivity. The light ring then illuminates in quadrants as the vehicle charges. Flashing quadrants represent charge in progress and solid-lit quadrants show stages of charge completion. When the entire ring is solidly lit, the vehicle is fully charged.

C-MAX Energi owners will have access to a suite of on-board and off-board driver information systems to help them manage the recharge process, manage the most eco-friendly route on-board, remotely control their vehicle’s charge and preconditioning settings, monitor battery state of charge and maximize energy efficiency to extend use of electric mode. C-MAX Hybrid owners also will benefit from the on-board features.

Among these tools is an execution of MyFord Touch driver connect technology, especially for electrified driving that offers configurability of vehicle information, including fuel level, battery power level, and average and instant miles per gallon.

The cluster’s new MyView feature allows drivers to access even more vehicle data such as the electrical demands of vehicle accessories, including air conditioning, which influences fuel economy and the electric driving range of the C-MAX Energi.

The Brake Coach feature helps to educate drivers to optimize their use of the regenerative brakes to recapture kinetic energy and send it back to the battery, also reducing wear on the brakes.

Long-term fuel efficiency can be displayed in two ways—either as a traditional chart or using an innovative display that shows a growing leafy vine on the right side of the cluster. The more efficient a customer is, the more lush and beautiful the leaves and vines become, creating a unique visual reward for the driver’s efforts.

To reinforce the message, at the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, fuel consumed (average and total) and a regenerative braking score.

Off-board, C-MAX Energi owners in North America can maintain constant contact with the car anywhere they have mobile phone or web access using the Ford-developed MyFord Mobile.

C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid are two of at least 10 new models or derivatives that Ford will launch around the world based on its new global C-car platform – Ford’s first truly global One Ford platform.

Ford’s new generation of C-segment vehicles will be sold in more than 120 markets and will account for more than 2 million units annually. The C-segment accounts for one in four cars sold worldwide today and, in conjunction with the B-segment, is expected to rise to 50% of all cars sold globally by 2013.



This may be the right size and shape to satisfy many potential PHEV buyers. Another good decision by FORD.


The more competitors, the better....


Now we are talking.
Pity it will take till 2013 for Europe to get them (but I suppose we have diesel over here in the mean time).
A common charger plug and interface would be a good thing to organize now.

It will be interesting to see how the HEV and PHEV sell against the diesels in Europe - they had better price them right unless they want to rely on the treehuggers entirely.
(But they will have Prii and Leaves by then).


2012 in N. America.

I expect my car to be good for another 6-7 years, so these things will be in their 2nd or even 3rd generation by the time I'm back in the market. By then the bugs will be out.

I regret not being among the early adopters, but style takes a back seat to sensibility.


"Ford’s new generation of C-segment vehicles will be sold in more than 120 markets and will account for more than 2 million units annually. The C-segment accounts for one in four cars sold worldwide today and, in conjunction with the B-segment, is expected to rise to 50% of all cars sold globally by 2013."

Quite a expectation.


Since development resources are usually limited, I would be working on these projects instead of restyling the Explorer. It is a tough game to play and one wrong move can set them back.


A Ford PHEV concept. Nice. This begins to demonstrate Ford's commitment to electrification. And it begins to prove out claims that alternative energy products mean jobs. They may not be new jobs, but they are jobs re-purposed to building alternative energy products.

That's good.


A picture of the trunk space in the Energi:

Why did they even bother to put a hatchback on the car?.. they should just have glued it shut like the Tata Nano does. That big hatch door has to cost and weigh a lot.


That pic< is explicitly titled "Ford Focus Electric trunk; it's not even a C-MAX.


E-P my wife Camry will be 12 years old this spring with almost 200,000 Km. It is still spotless and drives as good as new. She likes the Prius (2012-2013?) as a possible replacement and I agree with her. I can wait another 4+ years for a lower cost improved PHEV. There will be a wider choice then.


Very good, but the C-Max has 5 seats, while the Prius-V has 7 (or 5+2).

You have to give Toyota credit for the extra 2 seats.

Nonetheless, it is great to see Ford getting to grips with Hybridisation.

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