I’ve read a lot of press releases about Ford’s upcoming Prius fighter, the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. But nobody has actually gotten a chance to drive this plug-in, nor has Ford been forthcoming about some of the most important figures, specifically an expected EPA MPG rating. Ford has however announced that the C-Max Energi will go up to 20 miles on just electricity, and will have a starting MSRP of $29,995, after a $3,750 Federal tax credit.
Undercutting the Competition
Before the tax credit (more on that in a second), the C-Max Energi goes for $33,745, including destination charges. Because both cars have smaller battery packs (4.4 kWh for the Prius, unkown-but-estimated to be around 8 kWh for the C-Max ), the Prius Plug-In only qualifies for $2,500 in tax credits, and after factoring in destination charges costs about $30,260. In other words, Ford beats Toyota in both price and electric range, and claims to have a 95 MPGe rating and a 550+ mile driving range as well.
What little marketing push the Focus Electric got seems to be going behind the C-Max Energi tenfold. Ford is definitely gunning for the Prius, and the C-Max Energi might just have the wherewithal to do it when it goes on sale this fall. But don’t expect the Prius to roll over without a fight. The Prius name still holds a lot of weight, and Toyota still has a well-deserved (though increasingly spotted) record for reliability…something Ford is still working to improve.
But the Ford C-Max, despite a rather bland name, could be a real contender…or just another also-ran. It will go beyond numbers and marketing; Ford has to build a hybrid that can both connect with people, and give them a reason to opt for hybrids over cheaper conventional cars. The Energi, like the Prius before it, might be able to do that.
So now is the time to place your bets.