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Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid heading to select US showrooms

Overview of the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Ford began production of the 2013 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle (earlier post) at Michigan Assembly in October, and the vehicles are heading for showrooms. Ford has tripled to more than 200 the number of dealers certified to sell its lineup of plug-in electrified vehicles, including the C-MAX Energi that is on sale now. (Earlier post.)

Ford’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the market offers EPA-rated 108 mpg equivalent city, 92 mpge highway and 100 mpge combined;the all-electric range is up to 21 miles. Starting MSRP is $29,995 (after a federal tax credit). The EPA estimates that driving C-MAX Energi saves almost $7,000 in fuel costs over the course of five years compared with the average new vehicle.

The plug-in hybrid leverages Ford’s global C-car platform, powersplit architecture, next-generation driver information features and advanced lithium-ion battery systems. C-MAX Energi offers 195 net system horsepower (145 kW) with a fully charged battery, a top speed in electric mode of 85 mph (129 km/h), and a total range of 620 miles (998 km).

C-MAX Energi gives the driver control over how the vehicle’s power is used through an EV mode button mounted in the center stack that allows switching vehicle operation between three modes.

  • Electric-only driving without gasoline engine power;
  • Conventional hybrid mode where the powertrain melds electric and gasoline engine power as appropriate; and
  • Battery-saving mode that reserves the pack power for later use.

C-MAX Energi also has a feature called EV+ that allows for the vehicle to stay in electric-only mode for longer durations by learning frequent destinations. The feature was developed in response to Ford research that found drivers prefer to have their vehicles be in electric-only mode whenever possible. (Earlier post.)

C-MAX Energi’s power is rooted in third-generation hybrid vehicle technology found throughout Ford’s portfolio of roughly 500 hybrid patents; the technology that has helped cut costs of the automaker’s current hybrid system by 30% compared with previous generations. The powertrain combines a gasoline engine, a battery-driven electric motor and the new two-motor HF35 eCVT hybrid powersplit transaxle. (Earlier post.)

The HF35—designed in-house by Ford and manufactured at the company’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant—allows for operation at higher speeds than any other hybrid utility by featuring more precise controls that deliver higher levels of refinement as the powertrain transitions between engine and electric drive.

When powered by gasoline, C-MAX Energi uses the new 2.0-liter DOHC Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine, which delivers 141 hp (105 kW) and 129 lb-ft (175 nm) of torque. The electric traction motor provides 118 hp@6,000 (88 kW) and 117 lb-ft (240N·m) of torque.

In electric-only mode, C-MAX Energi uses an advanced 35 kW peak, 7.6-kWh Li-ion battery pack that can charge in as little as 2.5 hours when using a 240-volt charging station. A 240-volt station for home use and made by Leviton is available for purchase through a collaboration between Ford and the retailer Best Buy.

C-MAX Energi also features an LED-illuminated ring around the charge port, conveniently located on the front quarter panel of the driver’s side of the vehicle. The lighted ring makes it easy to determine the status of the vehicle’s battery charge: A fully lit circle means the battery is completely charged.

For managing the battery of C-MAX Energi away from the vehicle, MyFord Mobile is available for use via smartphone. MyFord Mobile allows C-MAX Energi owners to control select features of their vehicle from nearly anywhere, anytime, using the MyFord Mobile website or app.

For monitoring the vehicle’s power while in it, C-MAX Energi offers the latest generation of SmartGauge with EcoGuide. Designed to help drivers get the most from C-MAX, SmartGauge with EcoGuide provides information such as instantaneous fuel economy that is displayed on one of two 4.2-inch LCD screens, helping drivers more closely monitor how their driving behavior affects the vehicle’s efficiency.

In the right cluster, redesigned imagery of green leaves shows overall driving efficiency. The left cluster shows Brake Coach, a feature that helps drivers optimize their use of the regenerative braking system so that driving range may be enhanced through proper braking techniques.

Further controls are accessible through the 8-inch center stack screen serving as the interface between driver and the standard feature SYNC with MyFord Touch. Specific MyFord Touch features include SYNC 911 Assist (it can call 911 in case of an accident in which airbags deploy) and SYNC Services, which provides personalized traffic reports, turn-by-turn directions and up-to-date information such as business listings, news, sports and weather.



Glad to hear that your 3 year old car is mostly trouble-free.

More cars will use this type of technology in 10 years, but they certainly will not use the same components. Compare an early ABS module to a modern one. The early one is the size of a breadbox and split among a half dozen components. The modern one is integrated, and smaller than an old master cylinder. You can't fit the current part into an old car.

The price of an ABS module for a 10 year old Ford sedan (Taurus) is more than the resale value of the entire car, and it's a common point of failure.

It's foolish to expect to get 15 years out of this type of car when experience has shown us that 10 years is optimistic.

Maintenance will not be any cheaper. Modern brakes do not wear-out, they seize and/or warp. Modern engines don't wear-out, they have component failures. Steering and suspensions will wear more because of the added weight of the hybrid system, along with the higher torque of the electric motor. You will be paying to maintain two cars that sit on top of a chassis built for one car. That's manageable when you're still under warranty, and your local Ford dealer can get parts; it's not so appealing afterwards.

I'm not saying that this car doesn't make sense for anybody. It doesn't make sense for people who expect it to last 50% longer than is reasonable, and also cost (almost) nothing to maintain.


Future electrified vehicles could be built to be highly trouble free and to last much longer than existing ICEVs when:

1. batteries performances are improved, built for 2000 to 4000+ cycles and are 10 times lighter than current batteries.

2. car-vehicle bodies are made with long lasting, rust proof. lighter composites or equivalent.

3. most ancillaries are electrified (sealed) and built to last up to 20+ years.

4. all lights have been replaced with long lasting more efficient 300+ Lm/Watt LEDs.

5. existing failure prone AC units are replaced with more efficient, longer lasting mass produced integrated all temperature heat pumps.


Projected fuel savings may, or may not be applicable to your situation. I currently achieve 27MPG @ $3.31/gal. 8500 miles/year. I use just over 300 gal/year, roughly $1000. On working days, I drive 80 to 100 miles.

With this car, my first 20 miles cost 1/3 the gasoline rate. After that, it's 43mpg in real world conditions.

Bottom line: C-Max plug in

148 gallons/year @3.31/gal
100 recharges/year @ $1.00ea

Total savings: $410/year ($2000 savings over 5 years)($4000 over 10 years)

Roger Pham

With only a few key strokes, I was able to locate an ABS module for 2002 Ford Taurus that is sold for $50-80 on the Internet. For 1996 Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable, see the following link for an ABS module listed for $19.99 on EBay.

In modern day of Internet and Ebay, parts for any vehicles of any makes of any year will be available with a few key strokes. Even with parts that don't fail often, salvage yards will have them.

Many happy Ford owners will prove you wrong.

I hardly ever need brake service, even on my previous ICEV's, due to careful driving and minimal braking. My previous Caprice Classic ran for over 170,000 miles w/out brake service. The carburetted car was too old and was salvaged, but it still ran fine when it was salvaged after 20 years in service, due to newer cars that came along.

If plugged in twice daily and driven no more than 40 miles/day on average, the engine of the C-Max Energi PHEV will never need servicing, except for oil change after several years when using synthetic oil that won't gum up. That's my engine experience.

Roger Pham

If you only drive ~8,000 miles/year, and only 2,000 miles on electricity, then a PHEV may not be of major savings for you, but still good enough to allow you to sample the technology without paying extra early-adopter's fee.

Most people drive 12,000-15,000 miles a year on average, and will receive substantial savings from a PHEV, especially if they will plug-in the Energi twice daily when driving over 20 miles/day.

You drive 80 miles to work a day, but only drive 8,000 miles a year, which means you only work 100 days/year, or only 2 days/ week. You only drive 2,000 miles/year on electricity out of the 8,000 miles driven totally, which means that you only plug in only once a day. Your experience is highly atypical of most drivers, and as such, a PHEV is clearly not for you from an economic standpoint.

Now, try to recalculate a person who drive on average 40 miles/day, which is 70% of the population, and who plug in the car twice daily, at home and at work. How much savings would this person receive after 10-15-20 years life span of the car? Include also the savings in engine repair and servicing including oil and filter changes, as well as brake work, as well as transmission repair (none)!!! I would predict that you will save $10,000 to $15,000 total cost of ownership, with cost of battery changes included in, at regular interval due to wear of the battery pack.



I'm in the aviation workforce. I don't commute every day. Nor could I ever "plug in" in the employee parking lot. And, if I did, I'm sure there would be a way to charge me too much for the power. There are a few local charge locations. And there is a government office outlet that has a "dollar per charge" fee. Not exactly equitable when you cannot use a full 10KWH.

However, a well engineered solar array on the upper surfaces of my upcoming PHEV car would be a wonderful thing. When the car is parked for days, my battery would charge.

Bob Wallace

" I don't commute every day. Nor could I ever "plug in" in the employee parking lot. And, if I did, I'm sure there would be a way to charge me too much for the power."

That seems a bit short-sighted to me. Never is such a long, long time. Right now your employer probably provides a few little things to keep you a happy employee, if you're a valued employee. It could well be that your employer could see equipping some employee parking spaces with metered outlets as a good thing.

They probably wouldn't want to charge you above costs. Employees would probably find some way to 'get even'.

They probably would see making employee charge outlets as a good PR move. And if the fee was structured to recoup their costs, a no cost to them goodie.

A dollar a charge. Let's assume that's a nice long charge.

Assume you had a 60 mile commute and wanted to do it in a "100 mile" EV like what's on the market now, a reliable ~65 worst conditions range. You could use up 60 getting to work and pay $1 to get you home.

Drive 60 miles in a 40 MPG ICEV and you'll spend $4 for gas.

Let's do the math a different way. Assume you've got a 20 mile range/50 MPG PHEV and a 20 mile commute. At $4/gallon gas home is going to cost you $1.60. A dollar charge is cheaper.

Bob Wallace

"Future electrified vehicles could be built to be highly trouble free and to last much longer than existing ICEVs when:"

Here's an interesting video from Jay Leno's Garage in which he shows off an electric bus that's been in service for a year in LA.

The body is made of resin-impregnated balsa covered by fiberglass on the outsides. Should last twice as long as regular bus construction and lighter. This bus runs a 18 mile route and recharges in less than 10 minutes at one of its stops. It stays on the road 24 hours a day.


Excellent video catch, Bob.

Kit P

Glad to hear that your 3 year old car is mostly trouble-free. ”

What? I thought that Roger paid $6grand too much for a 2007 Prius before he paid $15grand too much for a PHEV Prius.

“our 2009 Ford Fusion is very good, over 60,000 miles ”

Now we find out that he bought a car with worse gas mileage and $4grand more than a Corolla. Now the Fusion has a $3grand lower resale. That $7grand in three years for just one car in depreciation.

Roger I do not think I want to take advice from you about cars.

We have a trouble-free 2007 Corolla with 130k and 89 trouble-free Ranger with 260k. Also no car payments.

The point is that you should expect a modern car to be trouble-free. If you check consumer report you will there are lots of exceptions. Some models are just a bad choice. There is every reason to think that fit into that category.

Roger Pham

@Kit P,

Do you know how much we paid for the 2009 Ford Fusion? $19,000 including TTL, or about $17,000 final sale price. The car has all power windows, power seat, power lock, A/C, Auto transmission, Security system,SYNC Voice Activated command and hand-free cell-phone, Sun and moon roof, AND Remote Start, dealer-installed. All it is missing is leather seats, GPS, and automatic A/C, which we don't much care for.

Can you get a Corolla loaded with that much options for that much? I don't think so!

My wife is able to get 27-28 mpg overall driving as reported on the car's instrument panel, as lead-footed as she is, with jack-rabbit starts and hard braking. That's why I did not consider an HEV for her, knowing her driving habit! Would a Corolla get better MPG, given her driving habit? I would doubt it!

Now, the most important thing is that the car has not had any recall whatsoever, while Toyotas like the Camry costing thousands more during that time, had several recalls for sudden acceleration problem and other problems. The Ford Fusion has never been back to dealer nor to car repair shop. All I've done was to change the oil at home, using synthetic 5W-20 every 6000-7500 miles. It has been running like new, with smooth idling and powerful acceleration. In the highway, the car feels like its flying due to its smoothness and good handling, as my wife described the feeling.

Don't forget that the Fusion is a class above the Corolla, with larger interior and exterior, heavier weight, tougher body, and larger engine. Can't compare oranges with apples.

So, Kit P, "have you driven a Ford (Fusion), lately"?
"Ford, drive one!"


cujet, if V2G and Smart Grid were commonplace, you might get paid to leave your car plugged in at the long-term parking garage and let the utility buffer the grid with its battery until you were about to need it again.  So long as you came back to a full battery, everything would be fine with you, no?



While you can sometimes get lucky scrounging for used parts in (virtual) scrapyards, the realistic fact is that any car that requires this is past its useful service life. You will need another car in order to get around while you wait for your used part to arrive. When it does arrive, the part you receive will be in worse shape than the one you are trying to replace (no return on electronics!). If you do get one with some life left, it's very little, and liable to leave you stranded at any time. Make sure you don't drive outside of cell coverage areas...

I love the car hobby, and I get the feeling that you do too (despite your choice of cars), but it's not for everybody. Most people want reliable transportation to get them to work, and the odds of getting that from scrapyard frankencars are lottery-bad.

Roger Pham

No need to be auto hobbyist. The fact that parts for old Fords can be found anywhere means that they will be available to a typical garage upon request within the same day. I used to buy generic parts and remanufactured made by HI/Lo, Napa, Pepboy, etc within the same day, instead of genuine parts for car repair in my younger and poorer days, and saved a lot of money. If there will be a market for a certain item, some generic part makers will make 'em. This is still a free-market economy. It won't matter whether Ford/Motorcraft will make 'em or long as there will be Ford cars with part market requirement, somebody will be making them!

But please don't put down Ford, since Ford is a great auto company with great innovation, high-quality design and manufacturing.

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