Print 24 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on May 21 at 4:49 PM

Ford has the Prius v in its crosshairs

Ford is taking the fight straight to Toyota with its new C-MAX Hybrid. While we first brought you news of the vehicle last year, Ford is now accepting per-orders for what it sees as the perfect competitor for the popular Prius v.
Ford announced that the C-MAX Hybrid will have a base price of $25,995 which is $500 lower than the Prius v. Ford also plays the "spec war" game by touting slightly greater maximum cargo capacity (99 cu. ft. vs. 97 cu. ft.) and roughly an inch greater headroom for both front and rear passengers.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid 

The C-MAX Hybrid is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine (Atkinson Cycle), which is paired with a CVT and Ford's hybrid powertrain (now with a lithium-ion battery pack).  We have the feeling that this is the same system that powers the second generation Ford Fusion Hybrid. While Ford isn't yet giving out EPA numbers for the C-MAX Hybrid, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid is good for 47/44 (city/highway).

“C-MAX Hybrid offers better fuel economy, performance, technology and functionality than Prius v – and C-MAX Hybrid customers will pay less at the dealership and at the pump,” said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Ford is delivering the power of choice for leading fuel economy across its lineup – from EcoBoost to electrified vehicles – because customers increasingly want to save money at the pump, even as gas prices rise over time.”

Production of the C-MAX Hybrid is already underway, and potential customers can spec and price out one on Ford’s site. A plug-in variant, the C-MAX Energi, will be available later this year.

Source: Ford

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Slow and steady...
By Arsynic on 5/17/2012 1:36:42 PM , Rating: 2
We're getting there guys...we don't need government propping this stuff up. In a few years these things will be so competitively priced that all small cars will be hybrids and PEVs will be where hybrids are today.

RE: Slow and steady...
By zozzlhandler on 5/17/2012 2:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
Right! Now all we need is the cheap electric power to run these things. Nuclear has proven that its safer than the alternatives (yes, that includes recent events). We should develop thorium reactors, build lots of them and stop depending on imported fossil fuels to generate our electricity.

RE: Slow and steady...
By bah12 on 5/17/2012 4:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
Not saying that Nuclear isn't the way to go, but one rather obvious correction regarding this...
We should develop thorium reactors, build lots of them and stop depending on imported fossil fuels to generate our electricity.
We don't rely on imported fuels for electricity. 1% of the US power generation comes from petroleum, not sure how much of that 1% is even imported. Fact is that if a significant portion of the population started driving EV's this year, for the short term at least we would most likely have to start importing fuel for power generation.

One interesting thing I noticed, was that I'd always placed Nuclear in the minority, but clearly we are doing a pretty good job of spreading our fuels between Coal, NG, and Nuclear. Having all our "fuel" eggs in one basket is not a good thing, so I was a bit shocked to see we are actually pretty good.

RE: Slow and steady...
By Ringold on 5/17/2012 7:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
More likely, we'd not have to important fuel (we've got a huge supply of nat gas), we'd just have rolling blackouts or have to jack way up the kwh price if people insisted on plugging in their cars at about the same time in the evenings, until some gas-fired plants could be brought on. (I'm just assuming that the load of a huge portion of households suddenly buying and charging a car every night would outstrip the benefit of the sun being down)

And then there's the Green River Formation shale oil.. but lets not get started.

RE: Slow and steady...
By Ytsejamer1 on 5/18/2012 8:41:24 AM , Rating: 3
What we really need in addition to many domestic sources (which we do have available), is an updated electrical grid. I still can't fathom why it hasn't been made a priority. With our grid going on 50-60 years in age, it'd be a great boost to the job market and economy if there was a national project to get the grid components updated. There would be loads of white collar engineering jobs, blue collar construction jobs, and everything in between created.

With electricity being the only other widely available power distribution method...that's needs to be the focus.

RE: Slow and steady...
By Mint on 5/17/2012 3:25:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but how do you know that hybrid technology would be where it's at today without the incentives in the last decade? It was probably $2B spread out over 5 years, and it's a technology that will eventually propagate towards a majority of vehicles sold in the future.

The gov't help was slow and steady, and continues to be. What do you save by stopping the EV tax credit? It'll be well under 1/1,000th of gov't spending from the time it became law to the time it's tapped out, but it will accelerate the effort to reduce the >$1000 per capita spent yearly on oil imports.

Is that kind of penny pinching really worth it for something that has such a large impact on everyone's lives? It's not like China is just sitting on it's laurels in trying to claim this burgeoning manufacturing opportunity.

RE: Slow and steady...
By Ringold on 5/17/2012 7:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
Alas, it's impossible to study, since we can't clone the Earth and run experiments..

But I'd point out the biggest problem with hybrids and EVs appears to be battery tech. We use and have huge incentives to increase battery life in all sorts of consumer devices that receive no subsidy at all, like laptops and cell phones. Toyota and other car manufacturers also aren't bad at turning a profit. Considering the incentive to improve the fundamental technologies would've already been there regardless and these are profitable companies that generally dont need support anyway, whats your solid argument that suggests it was highly unlikely this technology wouldn't of been possible without the subsidies?

'Cause from what people in the "green" industry get caught saying off the record, it seems to me that the subsidies thrown in the 'green' direction largely go towards lining already wealthy pockets and shareholders and are just Democrat-flavored corporate welfare, different from Republican corporate welfare *only* in that they have a different set of favored cronies. (I'm thinking of one of the Solyndra backers allegedly saying it was basically a once in a lifetime government cash cow)

RE: Slow and steady...
By Mint on 5/21/2012 4:49:13 PM , Rating: 2
True, we don't have multiple universes, but we can make reasonable speculations. I doubt that Nissan would have built their $1.7B battery plant without the subsidy driving EV sales (or at least it would have been delayed a few years and built elsewhere), and same with LG Chem.

However, I disagree with your belief that the impetus is already there:
But I'd point out the biggest problem with hybrids and EVs appears to be battery tech. We use and have huge incentives to increase battery life in all sorts of consumer devices that receive no subsidy at all, like laptops and cell phones.

First of all, battery energy density only matters for pure EVs, as PHEVs only need around 50 miles range (say 150kg & 80L plus cooling) to offload 80% of gas usage to electricity. All that matters now is cost.

More importantly, consumer devices have little incentive to last 10+ years or do 5000+ cycles. You won't lose a single sale if you produce a cellphone or laptop battery that "only" lasts 3 years or 500 cycles. They also have very different cost incentives, as a double-density battery could cost $5 per Wh (over 10x as much as car batteries today) yet still find a lucrative market in smartphones.

The primary engineering requirement for auto applications of batteries is lifetime cost per kWh discharged. There's no other market with that requirement. What they have to minimize is (cost+interest)/(capacity * total cycle life).

Cycle life is a critical part of that formula in today's low-interest reality. A Volt costing $50k with a bulletproof 30yr battery, for example, can have lower lifetime operating costs than the equivalent $25k gas car once battery recycling is taken into account, and that will find it's way to lower consumer cost (e.g. with GM retaining ownership of the battery). However, true battery lifetime can only be ascertained with experience. That's where subsidies come in, because they offset that risk premium, and get the ball rolling sooner.

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