When Ford brings the Euro-market C-Max crossover to the U.S., it will only be offered with hybrid drivetrains. There will be no traditional, non-hybrid model of the C-Max sold in America.
Ford had previously promised three versions of the C-Max: a seven-seat, gasoline-powered model; the five-seat C-Max Hybrid; and the five-seat C-Max Energi, a plug-in hybrid. The company has since decided it didn’t make sense to bring the seven-seat non-hybrid to the U.S., and instead has decided to expand production of the hybrid C-Max vehicles.
Both the C-Max Hybrid and Energi go into production at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant in late 2012, alongside the Focus and Transit Connect electric vehicles. Ford is keen to note that the cars are slated for production on American soil, with the battery packs assembled in Ypsilanti and Rawsonville, Michigan, and electric transaxles assembled in nearby Sterling Heights. This means Ford will reportedly add 220 green-energy jobs in Michigan.
The C-Max Hybrid will use a similar hybrid system to that in the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids. It will employ lithium-ion batteries and be able to drive at more than 47 mph on electrical power alone. The C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid, about which little is known so far. Like the Chevrolet Volt, it will drive primarily on battery power, with some sort of internal-combustion engine taking over when the electric range is depleted. Ford claims the Energi’s recharging times will be quicker than those of the Volt, and that it will have a greater range than any extant electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle — perhaps as much as 500 miles.
We had originally been promised the larger, non-hybrid C-Max, too. Based on the European Grand C-Max, this would have been a seven-seat minivan with sliding doors. Since its cancellation, the American-market C-Max will only be offered with hybrid drivetrains and could lend the model some eco-friendly cachet, like the hybrid-only Toyota Prius.
Ford has tripled its plans for production of electrified and hybrid vehicles, aiming for 100,000 vehicles annually by 2013. (Current figures are about 35,000 hybrids annually, headlined by the Fusion and Escape hybrids.) The Transit Connect electric is already on sale, and the Focus electric is slated to debut later this year. After the C-Max twins launch in 2012, Ford promises “another next-generation hybrid.”
Of that 100,000-vehicle production number, Ford is aiming for about 75 percent to be the C-Max Hybrid, with the C-Max Energi accounting for another 10 to 15 percent. The remaining capacity will be used by the electric Focus and Transit Connect.