The Ford C-Max Hybrid seems to be the Blue Oval’s answer to the Toyota Prius V, offering a versatile crossover vehicle with high-mpg figures. Just how high we didn’t know until this week. The upcoming C-Max Hybrid will reportedly deliver 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway, handily beating the Prius V in both catagories.
Ford has been talking up the C-Max Hybrid for at least two years now as an integral part of its “One Ford” lineup of limited-platform vehicles. Rather than developing an all-new platform, Ford plans to cut down the number of platforms, and make the remaining platforms easy to configure into different vehicles. The C-Max Hybrid, for example, shares the Global C-Platform with the 2012 Focus, and Ford has been hyping the C-Max Hybrid up as their answer to the Prius V.
The C-Max Hybrid will go on sale this fall starting at $25,995, about $400 cheaper than the Prius V. But the comparisons don’t stop there. Ford says that across the entire 500-mile range of the C-Max Hybrid, drivers will have a total of 188 horsepower at their disposal. That’s 54 more than the 134 horsepower of the Prius V, which means the Ford is also faster. Ford also dropped a little nugget of knowledge, noting that the average income of current hybrid buyers, versus early adopters who bought the Prius, has shrunk by $15,000.
What Ford is implying is that regular people are showing a greater interest in hybrid cars. As a recent attendee of the Further with Ford event in Dearborn (write-up coming soon), I can tell you that Ford is really into statistics like this. And it’s true, hybrids are a lot more “mainstream” right now, at least in terms of public awareness, if not direct sales. 2011 was a down year for hybrid sales, with diesels taking a lion’s share of the gains while hybrid sales dropped to 2.11% of all U.S. vehicle sales. THe high point was about 2.8% in 2009, but so far this year hybrid sales have accounted for slightly over 3% of all sales. Automakers expected to sell over 400,000 hybrids, and up to 50,000 plug-in vehicles, this year.
Hybrid sales may finally break out in terms of market share…but will the surge last long enough for the C-Max Hybrid to make a mark? Sales don’t begin until this fall, and all eyes will be on the Presidential election by then. Yet with Ford is coming hard at the Prius V already, which makes me wonder how that might manifest in the marketing campaign. The Blue Oval had better deliver when all is said though; Toyota is a tough competitor, and the Prius brand is still leading the sales chart across its whole lineup.
This could get ugly.