Is Ford Fusion Energi (20-Mile Electric Car) A Volt Competitor?

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2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

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As far as we know, not a single auto journalist has yet driven the upcoming plug-in hybrid Energi models of the 2013 Ford C-Max and 2013 Ford Fusion.

But an interesting and illuminating post on offers more details about those cars' electric capabilities than we'd seen to date.

It led us to wonder whether the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi will actually prove to be the most direct competitor yet for the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car. Here's why.

The author, noted hybrid-car authority Brad Berman, corrects his previous assumption--which many of us shared--that the plug-in versions of Ford's newest-generation hybrids would operate the same way as the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid.

That is, the plug-in Prius runs on electricity up to 51 mph for 6 to 11 miles--but only under light loads and gentle acceleration.

Mash the throttle on a fast uphill freeway on-ramp, and the Prius Plug-In's 60-kilowatt (80-horsepower) electric motor hasn't a hope of providing the needed acceleration.

So even if there's 10 miles or more of electric range showing on the car's multi-information display, the engine switches on and both engine and electric motor contribute torque to motivate the car as needed.

Ford, it turns out, has taken a different approach, one that makes more aggressive use of pure electric driving, using an electric motor of so-far unspecified output. Ford expects the EPA to rate total electric range at about 20 miles.

(While Berman's article discusses the plug-in hybrid system in the C-Max Energi, not the Fusion Energi, we expect the two cars to use identical powertrains and operate the same.)

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

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Ford's Energi plug-in hybrids offer up to 20 miles of electric range, as well as all-electric operation at up to 85 miles per hour.

The plug-in hybrid system gives drivers three different modes of control for electric driving: "EV:Auto" lets the car optimize efficiency by switching among electric and hybrid modes as needed, "EV:Later" conserves electric range by running the Energi cars solely as hybrids, and "EV:Now" runs the Energi models solely on electric power.

(Ford, quite properly, notes that running at high speeds solely on electricity drastically cuts that 20-mile all-electric range.)

With that in mind, we wonder if Ford has designed its plug-in hybrids to line up neatly against both of the highest-volume vehicles in the segment.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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In other words, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi faces off against the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid--while the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi will compete not against the plug-in Prius but against the Volt.

Sure, it doesn't have the Volt's electric range. The 2013 Chevrolet Volt is rated by the EPA at 38 miles of electric range--and our experience leads us to believe that's a real-world number for combined speeds, including freeway use.

But the 2013 Fusion Energi offers a lot more "electric drive" feeling and range than the ponderous and slightly disappointing Prius Plug-In. Also, it's a more conventional-looking car than the Volt, with more interior and trunk space.

For drivers with shorter commutes, that might be enough. Especially if the Fusion Energi's gas-mileage and overall efficiency ratings are competitive with the Volt's.

Here's how the Fusion Energi compares to the Volt:

  • SIZE: The Volt is a compact four-seat hatchback, while the Fusion Energi is a more spacious mid-size four-door sedan with five seats.
  • RANGE: The Volt gets up to 40 electric miles (at a wide variety of speeds), the Fusion Energi gets up to 20 miles (at lower speeds)
  • PRICE: The 2013 Volt starts at $39,995 and buyers are eligible for a $7,500 tax rebate, while the Fusion Energi hasn't been priced but qualifies for a $3,750 rebate.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

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Price will be a critical part of the equation. The 2013 Ford C-Max Energi will start at $33,475, less expensive than the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid against which Ford positions it.

The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid starts at $27,995 (including a $795 destination fee)--more than the 2012 Toyota Prius at $24,760 (including $760)--but the plug-in 2013 Ford Fusion Energi hasn't yet been priced.

Still, we suspect Ford will be keenly aware of the Fusion Energi's position against the Volt--both in base price and post-incentive cost--when it goes on sale early next year.

This could get interesting.


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Comments (47)
  1. Interesting indeed.

    There probably is an optimum in the price/EV performance curve for these vehicles. On the extreme end, Tesla Model S with 265 mile range, too much money is being spent on the battery.

    On the other extreme end, the Plug-in Prius has a pitiful (but still useful) 6 mile range.

    The Volt 40 mile range seems to be a good tradeoff, but the vehicle price might just be a tad too high.

    Perhaps the Fusion Energi with a 20 mile range will be that optimum combination of "enough" EV range, without being overly expensive.

    Should we be very skeptical of Ford's seriousness with the Energi after the slow roll-out of the Focus EV? Or is the situation with the Energi going to be different?

  2. The Volt is getting cheaper. GM is now offering $5,000 off, in addition to $7,500 Federal and $1,500 California. So you get a relative premium car for $26,000 ($30,000 loaded) plus sales tax. That's in the mainstream, considering that the average new US car costs $29,000 plus tax.

  3. Is the Volt $249/month lease too high price for most people?

    I don't think so.

  4. It is some sort of weird teaser. You have to take delivery by 9/4/2012, less than a month away. After that, I assume it goes back up to $349/month.

  5. Teaser or NOT, take the deal. It is for 2012 Volt. I imagine after that, 2013 Volt will be mostly out.

  6. So I can have my car plans all worked out for a mere 24 months? Seems a little silly.

  7. It is NOT silly b/c many buyers worry about the "bleeding edge" technology and the speed of the technology improvment. Leasing allow people to get the latest "green" car without worrying about that. Didn't we just read the article on the next generation of batteries that will be much better in 2-4 years? Also, Volt is due for redesign in 2 years. Lease will get them to try out technology without worrying about locking it for 6-7 years.

    You can always "option" to buy at the end of lease.

    Plus, for people who worry about tax credits, this will allow people to get that deal in lease savings without any income restriction.

  8. OK, there is a little bit of cherry picking here on the Volt pricing, but still interesting.

    The stripped down Volt is still $40K, I am not sure were I can get $5K off.

    As for the $249/month lease, very cool, but it is only 24 months, only on the non-California model, and only on the stripped down version.

  9. "stripped down" Volt is still better equipped than most cars out there.

    there are only 7 options on the Volt (Bose sound, backup camera, leather w/heat, Nav with 30Gb HDD, Color, wheel, and my link)...

  10. There are more comments in this thread
  11. The Fusion will certainly compete with the Volt, but there are advantages and disadvantages.

    Advantages -- More luxurious mid-sized family sedan with lots more features and comfort; 5 passenger seating; better mileage in hybrid mode.

    Disadvantages -- Less electric range; battery package.

    Ford has not released pictures of the Energi battery pack in their vehicles. I saw a C-Max Energi at the NAIAS. The top-mounted pack is quite large and takes up an additional 5 cubic feet over the hybrid. If (as I suspect) the Fusion follows the same route, the larger battery will take up a portion of the trunk and will eliminate fold-down seats. We'll just have to wait and see as the PR spoonfeeding continues.

  12. I agree with most of your points except for "more luxury"? Which part of the Volt is going to be less luxury than the Fusion? Power/memory seat?

    Also, I expect the Volt to perform better as well.

  13. I like the Volt; it's reasonably well equipped. I actually drove one today.

    I chose to make this comment because the origin of the Volt is a C-car (Cruze); the Fusion is a C/D car. Across manufacturers, C/D cars generally exhibit a higher level of refinement than C-cars, particularly in cabin fittings and NVH as well as a noticeable cabin size difference in both width and length. In addition, there are several options and features on Fusion not available in Volt (Lane Departure and Blind Spot Detection among others).

  14. The two features you mentioned is available on the 2013 models.

    But Volt is far better equipped and trimmed than Cruze. Volt to Cruze is like Lexus 200 CT to Prius...

    Fusion is larger and have more room (just rode in one today during lunch). But Volt is more comfortable ride (even in the rear due to bucket seating).

  15. I agree the Volt is well equipped.

    After I posted, I found the new options you mention when I was searching dealer inventory. The on-line Volt configurator is out of date and only allows building a 2012 model, so that's why I missed it.

    I could debate your comment on Fusion ride, but that is somewhat subjective. Unless you have some connection with access to an early build, I don't think you were riding in a 2013 Fusion which is all new from top to bottom. AFAIK, volume production hasn't begun.

  16. Not sure I agree with the "more luxurious" part. Having been in both cars (not DRIVING the Ford, but just sitting), I thought that a leather-appointed Volt was about equal to the Ford in term of the general interior appointments.

  17. Well, Fusion Energi will be a threat to the Volt if its performance can stack up against the Volt. So far, I haven't seen or heard anything close to that.

    I was up to 96mph in my Volt this morning going uphill to pass a red Prius with black/gray raciing stripes hogging the left lane at 60mph... All that was in pure EV mode. If the Fusion Energi can do the same, then there will be buyers. Also, I expect the Energi to have a worse gas mpg than that hybrid version due to extra weight in both the motor and battery pack.

  18. It will be interesting to see the extent to which you can floor the accelerator in the two Ford Energi models, without engaging the gasoline engine. Clearly they will engage if you floor it 100%. But is the cut-off point 90%? 80%? 70%? Impact of grade of incline, A/C usage, weight in the car, etc.?

  19. On paper, the new Fusion Energi holds promise, but and this is a huge "but," Ford has not really shown any commitment to truly support EV development, AND the likely intrusion of the battery pack into the storage area of the "conventional drive" Fusion is almost certain to REDUCE that storage flexibility. Pricing will be crucial, but there also Ford has not shown any aggressive interest in making EVs attractive.

    I am not "holding my breath" on this one.

  20. The low range on the Ford is a discussion stopper for me compared to my Volt (26 miles one-way commute, charging at office), but is a possibility for my wife (17 miles round trip plus ability to charge at her parking garage). She currently drives a Prius and was considering a PIP but when presented with the facts of the car dismissed it completely because she would almost always still be on gasoline due to highway commute. With only 26 gallons of gasoline for 11800 miles since 11/29/11 (17 due to two longer highway trips) the Volt is pretty close to a perfect fit for me, but I would be burning a lot more gas in the Ford.

  21. Michael...this is Chuck from NJ...I drive 13 miles ONE WAY to my work and can charge at each stop....i charge in my garage so i leave the house on 13-14 miles of ALL ELECTRIC Range with my PHEV or PIP.....I use the EV/HV selection of modes on the commute..if the highway is flat I stay in EV....hills you pop the mode into basically I use 80% Electric/20% Hybrid modes....I do not know who u worked with at Toyota or the research you sought out BUT if you have access to charging at your place of work or other means and you commute a one way of not more than 13 miles being highway or City the PHEV/PIP will do you very is NOT what the other car manufacturers are saying I have gone up to 175 MPGe not 95 and in Hybrid 56 plus..

  22. I start to understand why the PURE EV communities are starting to "hate" plugin hybrids. Another model with ICE "hogging" up a public charging station...

  23. Seems like a good halfway point between the Prius Plug In and the Volt. Yes the Fusion Energi will have a bigger battery pack, but if cargo is any concern you should be looking at the C-Max Energi instead.
    Most of my driving involves either 15 mi errands or 80+mi trips. That knocks the Volt down a few pegs with its lackluster 37 MPG gas mode rating and premium fuel requirement. GM Needs to find 10+ MPG in the Volt, immediately.
    As for me, the C-Max Energi really caught my attention especially with a 47 MPG rating. I can see that replacing both my vehicles in a few years.

  24. Well, I think in your use model, C-MAX and Prius might be a better buy.

    A Prius is about 700 lbs lighter than the Volt. One of my coworker just got 40mpg in his Prius (instead of the typical 55mpg he gets) with four people in the car and loaded luggage to roof going 75mph+ down to L.A. from SF. So, 700 lbs just cover about 4 people with luggage. If you look at the difference between the Volt and Prius + 700lbs in MPG, they are about the same. I get about 38-40mpg going 75mph in my Volt.

    Sure, the larger the battery, the less MPG in regular mode with extra weight. Sure wind resistance and tire resistance makes a difference. But weight is a major part of it.

  25. Sure, one day it is OK that the Volt is a little smaller than the Prius and the next day you are going to load it up with luggage, I don't think so.

    This cherry picking data is a little silly. I have taken my family of 4 with luggage on long distance trips and can get 50 mpg with no problem (in the summer, winter is worse.)

  26. I didn't cherry picking it. He reported it to me.

    I explained the fact that due to weight difference, the mpg will change. My coworker gets easily 55mpg in his Prius. But when he loads it up and speed up, the Mpg drops to 40 on his trip between SF/LA. The extra weight that Volt is carrying (~700lbs) explain some of that why Volt's gas mpg is lower.

  27. It is baloney. I never trust this type of reporting. It is just like Voelcker's 50 mpg Porsche. People are sloppy with numbers.

    Any long term data on the Prius from any reliable source shows it performs at 50 mpg. Saying otherwise is cherry picking.

  28. Well, I think you are just in denial here. My coworker is actually a Prius fan and he logs his MPG with spreadsheet (engr habits).

    So, you are telling me that if a Prius loaded with 4 adults and luggages full to the roof and going 80mph all the way from SF to LA (through the gravevine) on I-5 that a 40mpg is NOT possible?

    Well, I would say you are crazy for NOT believing it. I already said that I can easily drop the Gen II Prius mpg to 38mpg.

    A Prius load with 4 people and full of luggage going hi-speed with A/C on and through hills can easily drop to the low 40s. In fact, another poster just argued with me few days ago said the same thing. He even said "My Prius still returned 44mpg with mostly 80mph+ driving"...

  29. @Briggs,

    When was the last time you cruised at 80mph+ in your Prius?

    Next time, do it and see how fast your MPG drops...

    Then do it again with 700 lb weight in your Prius and see what happens...

    Make sure you log the miles and how many gallon you used to calculate it yourself instead of trusting your mpg computer in the car.

  30. also, even if you drive 80-100 miles, Volt still use less gas than Prius or C-Max since the first 40 is in pure EV and next 40-60 is about 1.3 gallon of gas. The cost of those trips are still similar with better performance.

  31. Xiaolong Li I would be interested in your definition of the new Ford compared to the Prius.Is it the same only with enhanced battery and electric motor for more speed and range or is it an EV as you claim the Volt is but with less performance?

  32. Well, I am NOT sure yet b/c nobody has driven it or Ford has NOT released all information. If the new Ford energi models can/will operate in "pure EV" mode regardless of speed and condition within its battery range, then it is an EV+ or EREV. But if it is NOT, then it is just a plugin hybrid like PIP.

    I guessing it is just a more powerful verions of the PIP...

  33. Why would you guess that? explain.

  34. @ Don, based on its estimated battery range and battery size due to tax rebates.

    20 miles @ 4 miles/KWh would give it 5KWh battery.
    20 miles @ 3 miles/KWh (PIP) would give it 6.5 KWh battery (similar to what the tax credit would justify).

    The less efficient design Pure EV design is similar to the PIP's design (more a hybrid first than EV first). Volt is EV first.

    Also, Toyota and Ford had a "collabration" few years ago on hybrid. I imagine they would follw that school of thought.

    Third, C-MAX is modeled closely to Prius. Fusion is similarly modeled to Camry...

  35. First, 37 MPG is nothing to sneeze at. Second, you actually get more than the rated MPG due to the fact that sometimes when you are operating on gas, the ICE shuts off and you return to electric but the computer doesn't count those as electric miles so on paper you get 37 but might really get 42 or more. So while other companies are displaying max and not real word numbers for both ICE economy and electric range, GM is being quite conservative. I routinely get 40+ miles range in mostly freeway speed driving and significantly greater than the rated MPG in ICE operation. Nobody else does this.

  36. What a joke! Let's see, it goes a lot less on electricity than other EV vehicles and it will probably be expensive, but we'll see when they announce their MSRP. According to the author, this Ford hybrid is likely to compete with the Volt. It seems that the technology is more of a Prius competitor. They are definitely setting themselves up for failure. The pro-oil critics will gleefully point out that the public is not interested in EVs or hybrids. They need to sober up, get their “fracking” heads out of the tar pits, and stop inhaling the funny gas. Guess the automakers don't want to upset their Oil Company masters by making vehicles with real innovations.

  37. There is strong evidence that technology exists to fuel EVs for 300+ eMPGs -- and I'm not one to argue against the evidence. I have to give them kudos on the body style. The Leaf can benefit from this body style, more range, and lower costs. I’m still holding on to my pennies; let’s see what 2013 brings us.

  38. By building the chassis from aerographite, with a three wheeled form factor, filling the tires with helium, and outfitting the interior like a go-cart?

  39. What a joke! Let's see, it goes a lot less on electricity than other EV vehicles
    Well that can be said of a lot of conventional cars where mpg is concerned but it doesn't seem to compute with buyers does it?

  40. Can you stay in EV mode in these cars when you punch it? If so, it's like an EREV just like the Volt and Karma... There's a test drive video done by Jay Leno on this car...


  41. I think 20 mile range on electric is too little. 40 is acceptable and 60 would be fantastic. Having 60 plus the ICE generator makes a very efficient and practical car in Southern California. My commute is 31.6 miles and I can't charge at work. Most of the travel route is freeway. 20 on a good day wouldn't work for me.

  42. The Volt still has the best driving experience as you can floor it and not have the gas engine come. You have plenty of impressive all electric power for many miles a day. I virtually never use gas and have a lot of fun driving my Volt. I like knowing that I can totally control the power usage and not use gas at all if I like. The Volt is still the standard in all around plugin electric car driving. The best design yet.

  43. I agree completely!!!!

    But Volt can use 3 improvements.

    1. An EPA rated 60 miles all electric range would be awesome.
    2. A power/memory seat option would be nice.
    3. A 120/240V universal EVSE with adopter plugs allows owner to charge in either 120V or 240V (either NEMA 14-30 or NEMA 10-30 or NEMA 6-30 plugs)

  44. 30 miles electric are the bear minimum, for me. Other than that, the Fusion Energi seems like a real winner.

  45. These comments kinda crack me up. I think you are all over analyzing the point. When it comes to the question about whether or not the Fusion plug in will be competition to the Volt, NO ONE cares which car has better technical merits. The question is, will the Fusion Plug-in pull potential VOLT buyers away from GM. I imagine it definitely will. There are going to be plenty of people who are willing to pay a little extra in energy costs to have a bigger, roomier car with a much lower sticker price. The TCO is probably still lower on the Fusion, for a larger car!

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