Ford says its new C-Max Hybrid will achieve 47 mpg city, at least 3 mpg better than Toyota Prius v with more performance and technology.
The segment for small hybrids such as the C-MAX Hybrid and Prius accounts for 65 percent of all hybrid sales. Ford expects about half of C-MAX buyers to be conquest customers trading in competitive models.
“This is our Prius fighter,” said Ford’s head of global marketing, Jim Farley, during a recent press announcement. “We did a lot of research that suggested having a distinctive shape that is easily recognizable not only helps Toyota sell more Prius hybrids but gives an image benefit to the rest of its lineup.”
While both are four-door, five passenger hatchbacks, the Prius V has a five-inch longer wheelbase that yields eight additional inches in vehicle length. The results are more interior cabin space than the C-Max.
The C-Max is Ford’s first dedicated hybrid; it uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a lithium-ion battery-powered motor for a total of 188 horsepower (134 Prius). It comes as Ford phases out its Escape Hybrid after the 2012 model year, which was EPA-rated at just 34/31 mpg.
The lithium-ion battery used in the C-Max is said to be between 25 and 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than nickel-metal-hydride batteries used in first-gen hybrid vehicles. It will also differ from the Energi’s by being optimized for delivering short bursts of power and recharging rather than the longer discharge required by the plug-in variant.
When powered by gasoline, the C-MAX Hybrid uses the all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine – powerful and fuel efficient and among the most advanced non-turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains Ford has ever offered.
Pricing for the C-Max hybrid is a little sketchy still: Ford has said the sticker will start at $25,995, including a $795 destination charge.
The C-Max Hybrid is available in two trims; SE and SEL.
Standard features include seating for five, cloth seat trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, dual sliding side doors, 17-inch alloy wheels.
The C-Max Hybrid and plug-in C-Max Energi will both be built on the same assembly lines as the 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric at a Ford plant in Wayne, Mich.
Through May, Ford sold 7,521 hybrids in the U.S., down 44 percent from 2011. Ford Escape Hybrid sales were down 76 percent from the year before.