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Ford Opts for Hybrid-Only Strategy for New C-Max

Planned people mover will be launched with hybrid and plug-in powertrains only.

by on Jun.09, 2011

Ford will offer the C-Max with only a choice of two hybrid drivelines, including the extended-range C-Max Energi plug-in.

This story has been updated from the original to include more detail and official Ford comments on the C-Max project. Editor Joe Szczesny contributed to this report.

Ford Motor Co. planners have shifted direction for the upcoming launch of the all-new C-Max microvan.  The new people mover will be sold only as a hybrid model, becoming the first dedicated gas-electric offering in the Ford line-up.

While Ford has decided to scrub a gas-powered, three-row version of the C-Max, the 2-row 5-seater will give U.S. buyers a choice of two battery-based drivetrains: a conventional hybrid, similar to the system now used in models such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, and a new plug-in version, the first time Ford has used that technology, which will allow a motorist to run extended distances on battery power alone.

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“This is our Prius fighter,” said Jim Farley, Ford vice president of global marketing, sales and service, said Thursday as he showed off  the hybrid version of the C-Max multi-purpose vehicle during a press conference at a Ford transmission plant outside Detroit.

There are several reasons for the change in strategy.  For one thing, Farley had argued that the maker needs a true high-tech halo car, much like the Toyota Prius, that is offered solely with hybrid technology.  Though Ford has greatly expanded its gas-electric line-up – and plans to have five battery-electric or plug-in models on the market before mid-decade – it doesn’t have a visually distinctive model that effectively says “hybrid.”