Toyota has ruled the hybrid segment since the original Prius rolled onto the U.S. market a dozen years ago — and up until now Ford Motor Co. has trailed a distant second with its well-regarded Escape Hybrid.
But Ford is changing gears, having retired the gas-electric version of the Escape in favor of a new version of the updated crossover now powered by the maker’s well-received EcoBoost drivetrain. That doesn’t mean Ford is walking away from the battery-car market. Far from it. If anything, it is rolling out an assortment of hybrids and even more advanced vehicles that, it hopes, will gives the Detroit maker a chance to challenge Toyota’s perceived leadership in green automotive technology.
Key to Ford’s bid to reduce Toyota’s dominance is the 2013 C-MAX hybrid, which comes with a five-door body style popular in Europe — and a completely new hybrid powertrain under the hood. The C-Max is being positioned as a direct challenge to Prius and will be Ford’s first model line offered only with hybrid or plug-in hybrid power.