Ford C-Max Hybrid Takes Aim At Volt, Prius


Late last night, Ford quietly let slip a few details about their upcoming, purpose-built hybrid, the C-Max. The Blue Oval’s Prius-fighter will only be available as either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid model, and we all assumed they would be powered by EcoBoost engines. Well hidden in the details was the news that two new Atkinson-cycle engines would be on tap. And no, they’re not rotary engines.

I got excited at first, thinking we might see the comeback of the rotary engine. But in fact the two gas engines will be 2.0-liter, four-cylinder motors with an unspecified amount of horsepower and torque. According to Ford’s press release though, it is among their “most advanced” non-turbo engines. Atkinson-cycle engines combine that power, compression, intake, and exhaust cycles of an engine into a single turn of the crankshaft. They are incredibly efficient, if not overly powerful engines.

The Atkinson cycle is usually employed in rotary-style engines made popular by Mazda, though it can also be used in standard cylinder-based engines. The problem is, these engines lack low-end grunt…which can be offset by either a turbocharger (in Mazda’s case) or an electric motor, the path that Ford is taking. It’s an interesting choice, and I will be sure to question some suits come the Detroit Auto Show about this decision. But since the C-Max will be hybrid-only from the get-go, perhaps Ford figured they didn’t need the EcoBoost’s extra grunt.

Ford is taking square aim at the Prius and Volt with the C-Max, calling out both models in the press release. Ford is claiming the C-Max will be able to get up to 500+ miles on a tank of gas, about 66% more mileage than a Chevy Volt. Ford also expects fuel economy to be better than the Prius V, and to deliver a better fuel economy equivalent than the Prius Plug-In in charge-depletion (i.e. more all-electric miles)

The Blue Oval will hopefully get more specific during the Detroit Auto Show in January, because they are making some pretty bold claims for a brand new car. Ford has been on a roll lately, but it will all come down to to MPG and MSRP, which is what seems to matter the most to Americans these days.

Source: Ford

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Tim Cleland

    Atkinson cycle engines work well with hybrids because they have the electric motor assist on
    acceleration from a stop. I believe the Prius uses the Atkinson cycle in it’s engine. It’s not hard, it just requires a cam that times the valves so that the intake valve stays open longer so that as the piston is starting it’s compression stroke, some of the intake air is pushed back out the intake…meaning the net intake air is decreased. This has the same effect as having an engine that has a longer power stroke than the compression stroke. Less intake plus longer power stroke means more of the energy from the fuel is extracted as work.

    • Tim Cleland

      P.S. Way to go Ford!

  • Imagine the wider profit margin for Ford shareholders on these, built in Ford’s new Chinese factories, three of them! and exported round the world, not only to the smaller narrower American market! now we have a real Multi National Stock on our boards! Great move Ford! The Pan Eurasian market-place grows by the hour, even faster than the American marketplace shrinks. Great “International Car” with the Ford nameplate – visionary!

    • Tom

      Not true! Ford will build the C-MAX Hybrid and Energi models at a former SUV plant outside Detroit that was totally refurbished to build the new Focus. Ford will build the Focus EV in the same plant, making it the first one in the world to produce gasoline, full-electric, hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on one line. In addition, Ford is adding hundreds of new jobs in Michigan to build the hybrid transaxle that will be used in the C-MAX and Fusion hybrids, previously purchased from Japan.

  • KokomoKid

    Yes, the Prius, (and Fusion hybrid) use Atkinson cycle engines.

    Mazda used a boosted equivalent, called Miller cycle, in their late 929, or whatever it was called.

  • Pingback: First Full Month Of Sales Sees Ford C-Max Hybrid Outselling Prius V - Gas 2()