Detroit 2011: Ford Blesses C-Max People Mover with Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid Powertrains

The mantra may tout the advantages One Ford, but hasn’t apparently stopped Ford product planners from spinning off a handful of variants of the new C-Max people mover. The latest additions to the portfolio include the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, both of which debuted yesterday morning at the 2011 Detroit auto show.

Interestingly, both models differ from the North American 2012 C-Max in more than just powertrain details. What Ford calls a C-Max here in the New World is known abroad as the Grand C-Max, and is technically a longer, seven-seat variant of the five-passenger European C-Max. That latter model isn’t sold in North America with a conventional gasoline engine — but it will be sold here in hybrid and plug-in hybrid form.

The C-Max Hybrid, as its name portends, simply blesses the four-door, five-seat crossover with Ford’s powersplit hybrid system, similar to that used in the Fusion Hybrid and Escape Hybrid models. Power is provided in part by a new lithium-ion battery pack, which was developed and manufactured in-house by Ford. According to the automaker, the system is capable of traveling at speeds up around 47 mph using only electricity.

Those desiring a little additional travel time in EV mode may prefer what Ford calls the C-Max Energi, which essentially transforms that same hybrid system into a plug-in hybrid. In its default setting, the Energi operates in a so-called charge depeleting mode, essentially functioning as a pure EV until the battery’s charge drops to a certain point, triggering what calls a charge sustaining hybrid mode. Further information on the Energi, including EV range, battery capacity, and how charge sustaining mode functions (i.e. does it still drive the front wheels while recharging the battery?) have yet to be addressed by the automaker.

Externally, only emblems — specifically those on the front doors and rear hatch — differentiate a C-Max Hybrid from an Energi. Both models do receive some unique exterior touches, including blue-tinged headlamps, satin-finish wheels, and a unique lower grille insert patterned after that used on the Focus Electric.

Speaking of the battery-electric Focus, Ford plans on using the flexible nature of the Focus’ assembly plant in Wayne, MI, to produce both the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi alongside their electric C-platform sibling. Both models are slated to launch in North America in late 2012, while Euro-spec variants won’t reach customers until 2013.


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2012 Ford Focus

2012 Ford Focus

MSRP $39,200 Electric Hatchback

0-60 MPH:

7.6 SECS


26 City / 36 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

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