Ford is coming out guns blazing with its first plug-in hybrid vehicle, called the C-MAX Energi. The car, being introduced in 19 markets this autumn, has the highest top electric-only speed of any plug-in hybrid on the market at 85 mph, which is 20 mph quicker than the Toyota Prius. The C-MAX bests the Prius for overall range, too, at 550 miles compared to the pedestrian 540 that the Prius gets.
And the EV-only range zone? The Energi gets 20 miles to the battery (a range Ford makes clear is within most one-way commutes, though fails to state the necessity of the working end of the commute having a charger if the commute is more than 10 miles away).
The C-MAX also has an EV mode button that allows the driver to switch engine operation, mounted right smack in the middle of the center stack. The EV: Auto mode automatically selects the appropriate blend of battery usage. In the EV: Now mode, the vehicle operates in EV mode using plug-in power, where the gasoline engine is inoperable unless the driver overrides the setting. In EV: Later, plug-in power is saved for later use. Drivers are given coaching cues to achieve maximum range in each mode.
That’s a picture of the C-MAX, though it’s curious why Ford would publish a picture of an electric car on grass, surrounded by trees. This is where the “one-way commute” claim from above is misleading; what if you’re a park ranger?
Regardless, the 500-mile overall range of these hybrid vehicles sure is tempting. And they keep getting better. Thank you, competition.
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