Hybrids have been around for a dozen years, in our market, but they are still seen by many as niche players. Either adjuncts to a conventional-car lineup or quirky stand-alone tree-hugger vehicles that are not real contenders for the mainstream market.
Ford is out to change those perceptions with its all-new 2013 C-Max Hybrid, emphasizing its "real car" characteristics.
The C-MAX has been sold in Europe since 2003, but it will be offered in North America for the first time this fall as a 2013 model. While gasoline and diesel engines have powered the Euro models, it will be available here only in hybrid form (and later as a plug-in hybrid called the C-Max Energi).
Something of a mini-minivan in configuration, like a Mazda5, it's a hard vehicle to categorize. Ford is calling it a hybrid utility vehicle here; in Europe it's considered part of the wide-ranging MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) category.
Whatever one calls it, it carries impressive credentials, particularly in terms of fuel consumption. Official NRCan figures haven't been published yet, but a straight conversion from U.S. EPA figures equates to 5.0 L/100 km – city, highway and combined!
Most hybrids tend to be more economical in city driving than on the highway, unlike conventional vehicles. The C-max Hybrid, Ford points out, is its first hybrid to achieve that low consumption level across the board.
Ford also highlights the fact that the C-Max's fuel consumption is significantly lower than that of the Toyota Prius V hybrid – more than 15% lower in some driving modes.
The company also touts the C-Max's driving range of more than 900 km on one tank of gasoline as being that of a "real car."
"The all-new C-Max Hybrid is a great symbol of how Ford has transformed into a fuel-economy and technology leader," said Ford Vice-President of Powertrain Engineering Joe Bakaj. "We've done this with innovation – represented by nearly 500 hybrid patents – while driving costs down 30% so we can bring these fuel-saving vehicles to more customers."
The C-Max Hybrid is powered by a combination of a all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine and a lithium-ion battery-driven permanent-magnet AC electric motor, with a combined net output of 188horsepower. Ford says it has a top speed of 100 km/h in EV mode.
In addition to being a fuel-economy leader, the C-Max Hybrid will offer 15 class-exclusive features such as SmartGauge with EcoGuide, an available hands-free liftgate and active park assist.
A Brake Coach feature – part of SmartGauge – helps drivers optimize their use of the braking system so that driving range can be enhanced through proper braking techniques. Redesigned imagery of green leaves shows overall driving efficiency – as drivers improve their efficient driving, they are rewarded with more leaves.
The C-Max Hybrid offers room for five people and their cargo, with a high roofline that provides ample headroom front and rear. Cargo space measures 694 litres with 60/40 split-fold rear seats in place and 1489 litres with them folded flat.
The all-new C-Max Hybrid, which is to be Canada's most affordable hybrid utility, is part of Ford's first dedicated line of hybrid vehicles, which also includes the 2013 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, coming later this fall.
Ford plans to triple its electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013, with the further addition of the Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.