Ford Stops Production of the C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid

By · November 13, 2017

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford last week confirmed that it stopped production of its C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid—and will soon cease production of the conventional hybrid version of the hatchback. “Ford C-Max Energi production has ended,” Dan Jones, Ford's North America Car Communications Manager, told Green Car Reports. While the plug-in hybrid variant of the C-Max is on track to have its best year of sales yet, sales of the no-plug C-Max hybrid have dropped by 18 percent compared to last year.

Ford introduced the two C-Max models in late 2012, hoping that Americans would develop a taste for a so-called multi-purpose vehicle (MPV)—a small and tall wagon-like hatchback. The C-Max was intended to compete against the Toyota Prius, but never became a legitimate challenger for either hybrid or plug-in hybrid customers.

At the time of its introduction, it was somewhat novel that a specific model would have two dedicated green powertrains—a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid—but no variant with an internal combustion option. The Prius started the trend in early 2012 when it added a plug-in hybrid version. More recently, new models including the Hyundai Ioniq and Honda Clarity went on sale as dedicated green models without a gas-powered option.

In 2013, after complaints (and lawsuits) about the C-Max Hybrid not achieving its advertised 47-mpg EPA rating, Ford downgraded its fuel-economy rating to 45 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. In 2014, Ford lowered the efficiency estimates of all its hybrids and plug-in hybrids, including the C-Max.

The C-Max’s downgrading, when combined with buyers’ preference for the Ford Fusion Hybrid—a traditional sedan with a trunk—signaled trouble for the C-Max. Ford has sold only about 8,300 C-Max Hybrids in 2017 while selling nearly 50,000 units of the Fusion Hybrid sedan. (There is more parity between the plug-in versions of the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, selling about 7,000 and 8,000 cars respectively.)

The discontinuation of the C-Max reveals Ford’s belief that a compact plug-in hybrid will neither satisfy Americans appetite for SUVs nor achieve the world’s desire for more robust longer range pure EVs. Ford is apparently responding by introducing a larger plug-in hybrid—a plug-in version of its popular Escape crossover SUV by 2019. Also, Ford will reportedly make and sell a new dedicated pure electric car with as much as 300 miles of driving range by about 2019.

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