Ford's C-Max is a vehicle currently unfamiliar to U.S. drivers, but popular in Europe as a more practical alternative to the Ford Focus, which donates its platform.

However, just like the Ford Focus and 2013 Ford Fusion, the C-Max is soon to become another global vehicle for Ford.

The 2012 Detroit Auto Show gave us a look at two five-seat variants - the C-Max Hybrid, and the even more efficient C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. Due to be sold only as hybrids, this will be Ford's first hybrid-only model range, a competitor to Toyota's Prius line.

We've got used to seeing Ford hybrids on the road with models like the Fusion and Escape, but the Energi is the first look at a plug-in hybrid from Ford.

The biggest technical change is the use of lithium-ion batteries, rather than the nickel-metal hydride units used in current Ford hybrids. This allows the battery packs to be both 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than previous Ford hybrid packs.

Ford also claims the Energi will go more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas - that's further than any other plug-in vehicle on the market. Even better for Californian customers, the Energi will be eligible for the state's single-occupancy HOV lane access sticker - something denied to the Chevrolet Volt.

No solid release date has yet been issued, but both the hybrid and plug-in hybrid C-Max models are expected to go on sale later this year. Both vehicles will be built in the U.S, at Ford's Fort Wayne, Michigan assembly plant.

For a much more in-depth look at the Ford C-Max hybrid and Energi, head over to our full preview.