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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ford plug-in hybrid launches in 19 markets this fall

Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid this fall in 19 U.S. markets, followed by nationwide rollout in all 50 states in early 2013.

The vehicle is powered by a gasoline engine and electric motor that generate up to 195 hp. Ford says the vehicle can travel up to 20 miles on battery power alone. Its total range is 550 miles.

The C-Max Energi has a parallel hybrid powertrain: Either the gasoline engine or the electric motor can power the wheels -- or both at the same time, if the motorist is accelerating hard.

At the touch of a button, Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid drivers can enjoy the industry’s top electric-only speed among all plug-in hybrid vehicles – 85 mph.

With a fully charged battery, C-MAX Energi is rated at 195 horsepower, versus 188 horsepower for Toyota Prius.

C-MAX Energi’s EV mode range is 20-plus miles – more than triple Toyota’s plug-in and well within the one-way commute range of many American motorists. C-MAX Energi – Ford’s first plug-in hybrid – also tops Prius plug-in in overall range (550 miles versus 540 miles).

Three EV modes

The EV mode button – conveniently mounted in the center stack – allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes.

Drivers can opt for electric-only driving without gasoline engine power, normal hybrid mode where the powertrain melds electric and gasoline engine power as appropriate, or a battery-saving mode that reserves the pack power for later use. For an image of the EV mode button, click here.

When plug-in power is available, drivers can change modes with each press of the EV mode button. The mode currently selected is displayed in the driver’s left instrument cluster screen.

EV: Auto

“In EV: Auto mode, the vehicle automatically takes advantage of plug-in charge,” said Kevin Layden, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “When the charge is depleted, C-MAX Energi operates as a full hybrid.”

The powertrain computer automatically selects the appropriate blend of battery usage and engine usage based on demand and the state of battery charge.

EV: Now

In EV: Now mode, the vehicle operates in EV mode using plug-in power. The gasoline engine will not operate unless an override setting is selected or certain conditions are present such as the accelerator pedal being fully depressed and the driver enabling the gas engine. EV: Now also activates a special Manage EV screen to monitor functionality.

To achieve the EV range estimate shown on the corresponding gauge, drivers are given coaching cues to maximize EV mode. Additionally, use of climate power and energy gauges will further help drivers manage vehicle energy use.

EV: Later

The EV: Later setting saves plug-in power for later use, like transitioning from highway to lower-speed residential neighborhood use. C-MAX Energi operates in normal hybrid mode, using both gas engine and electric motor. Plug-in power is reserved until the driver switches to the EV: Now or EV: Auto setting.

“C-MAX Energi uses technology in new ways to provide customers smart choices in maximizing their energy usage based on where and how they drive their vehicles,” Bakaj said.

Built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., the all-new C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid begins arriving this fall at EV Certified Ford dealers in 19 markets, followed by nationwide rollout in all 50 states in early 2013.

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