By Kelsey Mays on January 9, 2011
At a media briefing in Detroit last month, Ford product development head Derrick Kuzak called the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid the “first of our next-generation hybrids here in North America.” Toward that end, both C-Max variants use a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack rather than the nickel-metal hydride packs that power Ford’s current hybrids. The new batteries are 25 to 30 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter than their forebears, Ford says.
Scheduled for production at the same plant that produces the regular C-Max and the new Focus, the C-Max Hybrid and Energi are expected to go on sale late next year.
Both cars drop the regular C-Max’s sliding doors and third-row seat for two rows and conventional second-row doors. This layout is already available in Europe sans the hybrid powertrain. Their exteriors gain a few visual enhancements, namely multispoke wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires and a grille that looks straight off one of Aston Martin’s cars. (On a low-slung exotic, that grille works. On the tallish C-Max, it looks out of place.)Ford promises the C-Max Hybrid will achieve better gas mileage than the current Ford Fusion Hybrid’s 41 mpg city rating. EPA ratings for the C-Max Energi, meanwhile, are still pending. They could end up looking something like the Chevy Volt’s numbers, with an mpg-equivalent score if you drive with a full battery charge over a given range and a secondary score if you never charge your battery after buying the car.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey