Following the downward revision of the Ford C-Max Hybrid fuel economy rating, sales of the hatchback hybrid have fallen nearly 50% in just a year. This has Ford rolling out some generous incentives to get sales moving again, though it might not be enough in the face of growing competition.
Initially rated at 47 MPG in both city and highway driving, Ford aggressively went after the Toyota Prius in a bid to increase its share of the hybrid market. The scheme worked initially as the C-Max launched to great fanfare, but it wasn’t long after sales began that the facade started to crack though. Consumer Reports was one of the first to call out Ford on the less-than-advertised fuel economy in not just the C-Max, but the Ford Fusion Hybrid as well.
This launched a spate of lawsuits, and Ford responded by lowering the advertised fuel economy down to 45 city and 40 highway for a combined rating of 43 MPG in both the Fusion and C-Max models. Much like Hyundai before it, the Blue Oval attempted to soothe hurt feelings by sending owners a chunky check, but the damage has already been done.
Through March of this year, Ford has sold just 3,933 C-Max Hybrids, a 54% decline from the same quarter last year. To help get buyers into the C-Max, Ford is offering $1,000 cash and 1.9% financing for 60 months on 2014 models. Those wanting an even better deal can get $1,250 off of a leftover 2013 model, with 0% financing for up to 72 months.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just competitors that are stealing C-Max sales either. Many Ford dealers are reporting that customers are gravitating towards the Fusion Hybrid by a factor of three or four to one, as the payments are similar and the Fusion is a larger car. The only reason to consider a C-Max is for the still-excellent Energi plug-in hybrid model, or because you absolutely have to have a hatchback.
Ford learned a hard lesson when it comes to MPG numbers with the C-Max. Better to under-promise and over-deliver, as now Ford is stuck trying to sell a car consumers seem to have rejected. One thing’s for sure; the C-Max isn’t the Prius-fighter Ford promised.
Source: Automotive News