With C-Max Energi, Ford Aims for Prius-Level Success

By · November 19, 2012

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford executives who have watched Toyota sell hybrids by the boatload clearly put their Prius-envy to work when designing the C-Max Energi. At a press event on November 13, Ford took every opportunity to compare its newly launched plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with Toyota's hot-selling plug-in hybrid, the Prius.

Though it may look larger from the outside, the C-Max Energi is comparable in size to the Prius – a few inches taller and wider, but a few inches shorter and with slightly less cargo space. It also has higher MPG, a longer total driving distance, and nearly double the all-electric range (21 miles).

Ford executives emphasized that the C-Max Energi, at $29,995, costs less after the federal tax credit than both the Chevrolet Volt, which has been leading all PHEVs in monthly sales in the United States, and the Prius PHEV. They added that after the California rebate, the C-Max Energi only costs $1,000 more than a C-Max Hybrid with the similar package and trim level.

If my experience during an 80 mile test drive through San Francisco and lovely Marin County is any indication, the C-Max Energi's performance will attract many customers who put driving pleasure high on their priority list. It feels much more substantial and peppier than the smaller plug-in vehicles I've driven, and while it's not quite a Tesla Roadster, it's a comparable driving experience to the Volt. The car has three settings for the amount of battery power provided: auto (the car decides what is best), EV Now, and EV Later. The EV Now mode may not be available depending on how full the battery is. During my test drive, I achieved 73.6 MPG despite going up and down a number of hills, which is remarkable for a vehicle of this size.

Ford is hoping to control its vehicle production cost by using the same hybrid equipment on both the Energi and the hybrid C-Max, with the exception of the much larger battery pack in the plug-in model. Ford says the company expects to sell around 3 times as many hybrids as Energis, and that the company is tripling its overall production of hybrid and plug-in vehicles for 2013.

Ford is continuing to work with Microsoft and utilities to enable consumers to "value charge" their vehicles by specifying only charging the battery pack when electricity rates are lower. Ford's Mike Tinskey said that the company has pricing data from more than 800 of the largest utilities, which represents 80 percent of the U.S. population. While utility "time of use" pricing may change the behaviors of owners of Ford's Focus battery electric vehicle, which has enough battery to meet drivers' daily needs and can be fully charged overnight, Energi drivers will likely want to keep the batteries topped off whenever possible to avoid paying for gas. Utilities face a significant challenge because as long as the cost of driving electric is cheaper than gasoline (it can be 25 percent of the cost or less), drivers will plug-in whenever they can if they plan on using the car during the day.

Ford's decision to develop its hybrid, PHEV and BEV platforms simultaneously will likely garner the company the largest share of plug-in electric vehicle sales in the U.S. starting in 2014, according to Pike Research's 2012 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Report.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

I've had the chance to experience the C-Max through a rental and it is a very nice car. A local Ford Dealership is advertising it and saying that they have a Prius V at the station so you can test drive both and see how the C-Max is better. Now that is impressive.

· Noel (not verified) · 5 years ago

My wife is a salesperson and really misses the HOV sticker that was on her 2007 Prius. We test drove the C-Max Energi and she liked it much better than the PiP. She said it had more power, was smoother, and the cabin was nicer. Best of all, she is looking forward to the green HOV stickers.

The cargo space will be more challenging than the PiP due to the higher level of floor but alleviating this will be the one-touch fold rear seats with auto folding headrests, and the auto lift-gate that she can height adjust.

Looking forward to January for our delivery of the C-Max Energi and a chance to test drive the Focus Energi :)

· David Martin (not verified) · 5 years ago

The grid is going to need upgrading more than many of us thought.
So far plug ins are selling a lot better than BEVs, and due to their shorter EV range drivers are plugging in more often away from home, 1.4 times a day compared to 1.1 times for BEVs.
Then we have to allow for most of the plug-ins being the Volt, which has a ~40 mile EV range, and it is plain that the Energy with ~20 miles will lead to drivers plugging in even more in periods of high demand during the day.
It is not a show-stopper, but some serious money will have to be spent on grid upgrades.

· · 5 years ago

Second article revealing real-world testing pushing over 47MPG combined. Very impressive. I sat in a regular Hybrid C-Max (dealer does not have the Energi) and loved the comfort and feel. When the LEAF lease is up (as much as I love this car) I will be looking into the C-MAX over the PiP. (unless the Tesla S is mass produced and the 50K models are available...i wish...right?)

I feel for the locations who have mixed energy pricing, my supplier NOVEC is shareholder owned and is $0.12kWh with a govt subsidized rate of -.01 So it evens out to $0.11kWh (single rate) Not bad, cost me around $2.40 per day to charge (according to Blink's display and rate set at $.12)

Yes the entire GRID on the U.S. needs upgrading, more so we just need to show business' the value in adding charging stations near their lots. I spent an extra 2 hours in a shopping center just because they had a L2 available...and it was free. (i was only 5miles from my house and spent more money than I originally planned, yes i have self control:) )

Next few years will be interesting with more Plug-In's and full electrics hitting the roads.

· · 5 years ago

News on the upgraded Leaf out.

· · 5 years ago

We have a C-Max Energi on it's way. We really liked it in our test drives, much nicer than the Volt or Prius in our opinion. That's our opinion - I am not saying the Volt or PiP are not nice cars - just that we preferred the C-Max Energi.

However, there is much debate about fuel economy in the forums. For example here is one thread:

"My First Interstate tank and it is not pretty."

There are others too, both on the Energi forum and the regular Hybrid forum. As always, Your Mileage May Vary!

· · 5 years ago

Often in the Northwest we have so much electricity we have to dump it because we can't move it to other regions fast enough and we produce way more than we consume. Especially during the winter or spring when we have low electricity consumption coupled with high production due to storms (wind) and hydro (rain) events.

What we do need perhaps it to have the grid be more interconnected so that we can flow power better across the nation. It is terrible that we have to shut down production and dump excess up here in the northwest while they are still burning coal for power in the south or midwest...

We do ship to the southwest but they can only take so much at a time due to a variety of limiting factors (some physical, some financial, some political).


· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

"The grid is going to need upgrading more than many of us thought."

LOL, No. At current rates, the sales of EVs are dwarfed by air conditioners, hot tubs, electric hot water heaters, heaters, swimming pools, and other electricity hogs. New EVs are probably more than made up for by new PV installations and reduced consumption from switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs/LEDs and CRT TVs to lower power flat panel displays.

· · 5 years ago

Before we worry about the power grid, how about we get all the banks and other offices which are closed 60% of the day to turn off or sleep all their computer monitors when not in use. That alone would cover every EV sold... :)

Seriously, I have a couple banks near me which leave their monitors on a stupid screen-saver 24/7 when there are no eyeballs looking at the monitors. Completely 100% wasted electrons. This happens all over the place. There are bars and restaurants who leave their TVs on even when they are closed. Why do people do that? It annoys me.

Also, how about we cut the number of massive lights used at car dealerships by half. Does the entire lot need to be lit like daylight for every minute of darkness?

Heck - those massive digital billboards that are springing up everywhere suck more juice than all the EVs on the road, and those signs are on 24/7 whether there are people in the area or not...

But hey - lets attack EVs right? It's not like their electrons are actually being used for something useful... ;)

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

The biggest issue with C-Max Energi is its weight. I seriously doubt that it will get anything close to 40mpg in real world. The weight will also affect handling. The electric adjusted "FAKE MPG" is pointless. At the end, it is about how much MPG it is getting in gasoline mode. Volt's fake mpg are easily in the 150mpg range.

The concern about electric grid is pointless. If you take EIA's US electricity data and then assume EV travels about 40 miles per day (75% of all commute) and the amount of electricity needed for 1 Million EVs is only about 0.38% of the US electricity generation. We are NO WHERE close to 1 Million EVs...

If EV critics would actually learn something about math, they wouldn't make stupid statement concerning EVs and US electrical grid.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Go read the reviews. There are tons. Handling is good. It's not that much weight.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

"Go read the reviews. There are tons. Handling is good. It's not that much weight."

Just about all the reviews show that C-max are getting low MPGs in the range of high 30s and low 40s... NOWHERE close to the 47 EPA range.

· · 5 years ago

@Modern Marvel Fan,
Interesting point you bring up about the mpg actually being achieved. I guess this shows a big difference between a PHEV and a BEV as well. With a PHEV, missing the mpg goal means customers complain a bit but it doesn't affect the utility of the vehicle much - the driver just buys gas more often. With a BEV, however, not making the mpge, coupled with the already shorter range of the vehicle, means that the driver can't make it to the destination without charging. Given the sparseness and slowness of today's charging infrastructure, this can make certain drives impossible even though they theoretically look like they should have been, based on the EPA or other estimates.
I guess this disparity justifies my push for less aggressive numbers being provided for BEVs on other threads. Just because some hypermiler can achieve a particular range on a good day doesn't mean someone can buy a BEV with the hope of achieving that range every day for a long time.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver,

That is true. Not to mention the fact that since BEVs are extremely efficient (about 2x more efficient than Prius), it is even more "sensitive" to energy usage. So, A/C, heat, hills, weight and speed all significantly impact the actual use range. If EPA has a rating, I would "derate" it by about 30% for actual "safe" travel. The issue is also heavily impact by the aging of the battery over time. We all know that battey will degrade, maybe NOT as fast as the critics have been claiming, but it certainly can degrade at a fast pace if certain "care" are NOT taken. That will make effective range even a larger issue over time... This is exactly why I don't think PHEV/EREVs are going away any time soon...

· Jesse Gurr (not verified) · 5 years ago

Someone posted this link on another site. It was his own trials and errors and he seemed to find a technique you can use to get the rated MPG out of the CMAX. Very enlightening, and a good read. This guy says its possible from his experience. The technique doesn't seem that hard to do and most people probably do some form of it anyway.


· Mike Szostech (not verified) · 5 years ago

People must not be too concerned with the EPA investigation of the C-max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid fuel economy numbers - Ford sold over 1250 C-max Energis last month!

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