New Ford C-Max hybrid could be better than the Toyota Prius
At least better than the bigger Prius v
While many have mocked Toyota over the last few years for not rushing into plug-in vehicles, plug-in sales suggest that it was Toyota that was the wiser. Instead of plug-ins, Toyota extended the Prius family and now both the c and the v Prius hybrids each achieve twice as many sales as the top selling plug-in. Plus, there is nary an automotive analyst — if any — that has forecast plug-ins outselling hybrids through the next decade.
And that makes the new Ford C-Max hybrid a pretty interesting entrant into the hybrid space.
According to Ford, not only will the C-Max hybrid offer better fuel economy than the Prius v, but it will also be cheaper. While the C-Max hybrid has yet to be rated by the EPA, Ford predicts the numbers should come in at 47 mpg city, and 44 mpg highway, compared to the v hybrid’s 44 mpg city, 40 mpg highway.
Now to be fair, EPA fuel economy estimates are still a little deceptive. For instance, when Ford launched its Ford Fusion hybrid, as well as its better fuel economy compared to the Camry hybrid, independent testing — such as by Consumer Reports — often demonstrated there was little difference in fuel economy between these two hybrids, despite the Fusion hybrid’s EPA estimated advantage.
Thus, the Ford C-Max might only be more fuel efficient in EPA labs, not the real world. However, the C-Max hybrid will be $1300 cheaper than the Prius v. And that’s the number that really pops.
However, before Ford fans jump for joy, there have been some rumors that the C-Max won’t be quite as functional as the Prius v, and that the Prius will still offer more overall utility. I’m waiting for the final specs and a side-by-side comparison before making such claims.
Nevertheless, it seems clear that Ford is ramping up its hybrid game, and the Ford game plan appears more enticing than ever.
Moreover, it’s not just the idea of the C-Max hybrid outselling the Prius v that sizzles, it’s Ford’s lithium-powered hybrid powertrain that adds real juice to this story.
Sure there are other automakers selling lithium-powered vehicles, but the C-Max could easily and quickly become the top selling lithium-powered vehicle. And that could demonstrate that the right lithium technologies are more cost-effective than NiMH ones for hybrid cars, including ones like the conventional Prius — something Toyota claimed was not possible when it rolled out the the third generation Prius a few years ago.
Then again, Toyota has a significant NiMH advantage compared to all other automakers, and it’s conceivable that Ford might be willing to subsidize its new battery tech to get wheels under its lithium program.
Regardless, the new C-Max hybrid is the most interesting hybrid in some time — outside of Toyota at least. While the C-Max is not yet a legitimate Prius contender, it could be big step in the right direction.