2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, C-Max Energi Plug-In: More Details

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2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid

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The new Escape crossover arrives at dealers in mere months, minus the hybrid model of its predecessor.

That means it's now time to talk about the new 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, which will serve as the company's hybrid entry in the compact segment.

The 2013 C-Max is a five-passenger small minivan or "multi-activity vehicle" (Europeans call it a "people carrier") that will be offered only as a pair of hybrid models, giving Ford a dedicated hybrid five-door like Toyota's iconic Prius--a vehicle without a gasoline-only model.

Like the Prius, the new compact vehicle will also offer a plug-in hybrid variant, called the Ford C-Max Energi. It will be Ford's first plug-in hybrid, though likely not the sole such vehicle within its global lineup.

Next-generation hybrid system

Both 2013 C-Max versions will use the next generation of Ford's hybrid-electric drive system. But unlike the current 2012 Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid models, which use a 2.5-liter engine, the 2013 C-Max hybrids will use a smaller, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Like most engines in full hybrids, it has been adapted to run on the Atkinson Cycle--meaning it burns gasoline very efficiently but has little low-end torque, which is provided instead by the hybrid system's electric motor-generators.

Like Toyota and General Motors, Ford's hybrid system uses a pair of motor-generators within an electronically continuously variable transmission, allowing the engine to run at its most efficient speed.

This new-generation hybrid system in the C-Max, however, is the first to use a lithium-ion battery pack, which is smaller and lighter for the same energy capacity than the older nickel-metal-hydride packs used in all Ford hybrids to date.

More than 42 mpg combined

While Ford hasn't released specifications for engine power, motor output, battery pack sizes, or projected fuel economy for the C-Max models, it repeats its "class-leading fuel economy" claims for the pair of new compact vehicles.

More specifically, Ford projects that the C-Max Hybrid will earn higher ratings than the 2012 Toyota Prius V wagon. The EPA rates the Prius V at 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 42 mpg.

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid

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If that happens, besting the gas mileage of Toyota's newest Prius model in a similar package--a five-door wagon-like hybrid vehicle with five seats--could be considered something of a coup for Ford.

For the plug-in C-Max Energi, Ford says it will deliver better gas mileage in "charge depleting" mode--running mostly on electricity with occasional supplementary engine power as needed--than the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

It also claims a driving range of more than 500 miles for the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in, between the range provided by the larger battery pack and that from the engine and electric drive operating as a standard hybrid system once the plug-in range has been depleted.

The Energi's charging port door is on the left front fender; like all such plug-in hybrids, it can recharge either on standard 120-Volt household current or through a dedicated 240-Volt charging station, which Ford will make available through its dealers.

The company's engineers have worked on improving the efficiency of every part of the hybrid system. Ford claims that more than 95 percent of the energy that would be wasted through braking in a conventional car is recaptured to charge the battery pack in the C-Max hybrids.

Tall but short

The C-Max twins represent a type of vehicle that's common in Europe, though not much seen so far in the States. The closest models from other makers are probably the Mazda Mazda5 small minivan and the now-discontinued Kia Rondo.

At 64 inches tall, the C-Max driver sits higher than in a compact car like the Focus, offering the "command position" so appealing in crossovers. The C-Max Hybrid has 25 cubic feet behind the rear seat, 54 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.

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Comments (11)
  1. Excellent report.

    Ford is adding an important new vehicle to the mix of Eco-cars. If they are really able to best the Prius V on mpg, that will be amazing. However, despite a carefully worded statement about the plug-in, Ford's plug-in will not be as efficient as the plug-in Prius.

    Nevertheless, Ford is just about the only hybrid manufacturer than has even come close to Toyota in efficiency and smoothness and the Energi will likely be a nice vehicle offering a clear alternative to the Prius line.

  2. @John: What's the basis for your statement that the C-Max Energi "will not be as efficient as" the Prius Plug-In Hybrid?

  3. Not sure if these are your words or theirs
    "For the plug-in C-Max Energi, Ford says it will deliver better gas mileage in "charge depleting" mode--running mostly on electricity with occasional supplementary engine power as needed--than the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid."

    But it is basically saying that as long as electricity is free and unaccounted for, the Energi does a better job than the Plug-in Prius. Undoubtably this is a finely parsed argument that only works when you consider the gasoline part of the gasoline/electric mix.

    The underlying Prius is can achieve 50 MPG in charge sustaining mode which will be better than the Energi's 42. So it is more than a fair bet the the Prius KWH/100mile rating will best the Energi as well.

  4. @John: The comparisons aren't quite straight across. Ford compares the hybrid C-Max to the hybrid Prius V wagon, which given the shapes & cargo spaces is probably fair. Ford thinks it will win that contest.

    The best comparison for the *regular* Prius hatchback would be a hybrid Focus--which Ford doesn't make at the moment.

    Ford compares the C-Max Energi PHEV to the Prius PHEV, and there it's somewhat handicapped to start with (larger vehicle, presumably heavier, more frontal area). But they have not yet released electric range or pack size, and said only that they felt their metrics and ratings would beat the Prius PHEV--perhaps simply by having a larger pack. We shall see.

  5. I concur with your points here. If the C-Max beats the Prius V, that is a big deal because it is a fair comparison and may open up new markets for hybrid vehicles.

    The Ford claim on the plug-in is a little weaker and perhaps less relevant.

    Reporting numbers on plugin' is tricky as we now see the EPA reporting the Volt as 60 MPGe. We have not heard the last of the best ways to compare plug-ins.

    I don't want to be seen as talking down Ford. The Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrids are awesome and looks like the C-max Energi will be as well. However, the regular Prius still has a slight edge in absolute efficiency.

  6. More simply, if the Energi was really more efficient than the Plug-in Prius (in terms of MPG or KWH/100 miles) Ford would have simply said so.

    It has been 11 years now. Still waiting for someone to best the Prius, and it hasn't happened (LEAF and Volt arguments aside that is.)

    It will probably take the Prius C to best the Prius.

  7. I can't add much to the discussion here (but have enjoyed it...) but John B.... the Prius has been on sale since 1997, so it's been #1 for efficiency for 14 years now, not 11. Remember, it was sold in Japan for about three years before it was released here. With your pride in the Prius, I'm surprised you used 11 but I assume you're referring only to the time it's been sold in the U.S.

    One question: how efficient is the Mitsubishi i? If it's rated at 112 MPGe, isn't that higher than the current Prius? I'd still take the Prius between the two, but I thought I'd read here that the i was now the most efficient. Bad memory, perhaps.

    As always, improvements anywhere help eventually everywhere.

  8. I stand corrected on both counts.

    The Mitsu "i" is the most efficient vehicle for sale. However, it requires that you except the EPA's method of equivalents between MPG and MPGe, something that is quite complicated.

  9. @John B., I didn't mean to correct you so much as validate my failing memory... And I think the Prius is still a better choice than the i overall. Yes, I do hate the styling but it's still a commendable choice, just not for me.

    I was living in Japan when the Prius came out (not that it was a big deal at the time, as it wasn't) so I remember that pretty well. Same low-volume, get things right before major sales approach that makes sense. It's not often I see a car I don't recognize at first.

    MPGe, no clue at all...

    Hey, if it means the Prius has been #1 for 14 years and not "only" 11, that's not a bad thing to be slightly mistaken about.

    And your comments about Ford seem fine, no negativity, just reasonable scepticism, I'd say.

  10. Comment disabled by moderators.

  11. So just HOW HEAVY is the Ford Energi Plug IN.....its odd that the Prius Plug IN only weighs 3,100 pounds and the Energi Plug In weighs 3,800 pounds approx....so If it betters the Prius in ALL aspects in MPGe which is 95 for the Prius and better than why does Ford NOT EVEN MENTION the Hybrid mode Mpg as Toyota makes ALL pertinent information available ...its odd Ford ONLY tells you what they want to but Toyota HAS ALWAYS BEEN the norm of sharing the important specs. for there vehicles.....I drive a PHEV ADVANCED Toyota Plug In and its betters ALL the specs that are made openly available on the sticker...ALways better NOT LESS....weight shall not allow the Ford to beat the Toyota GUARANTEED in Hybrid Mode...Ford always stretches the TRUTH..!

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