Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ford Drops Escape Hybrid, Boasts in Focus Electric and C-MAX Hybrids

Published December 15, 2011

By Jeff Cobb

Ford’s updated Escape line due early next year will lack a hybrid option but yesterday the company said its pending 2012 Focus Electric and 2013 C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid will offer best-in-class efficiency.

Citing “expected” mileage figures, the Focus Electric is said to achieve 100 MPGe.

Of the C-Max Energi, Ford says it is expected to beat fuel economy delivered by the Prius plug-in hybrid in electric mode and top the Chevrolet Volt in range with 500 miles estimated.

Similarly, the C-MAX Hybrid is supposed to achieve better fuel economy than the Prius V in both city and highway driving.

One battery electric competitor Ford didn’t mention to its $39,995 Focus Electric – the Mitsubishi i – gets 112 MPGe and costs around $10,000 less, but Ford overlooked the otherwise value leading EV as it is a four seater.

Also not mentioned in the electric vehicle MPGe comparison was the $4,000-less Nissan Leaf which gets an EPA rated 99 MPGe.

While it barely improves on the Leaf’s MPGe, where Ford says it roundly defeats it is in recharge time.

With its 6.6 kw on-board charger, Ford says the Focus Electric “is the first all-electric vehicle to feature faster charging technology, allowing it to fully recharge in three to four hours [using 240 volts] – half the time of Nissan Leaf [with its 3.3 kw on-board charger],” Ford says.

Just one hour of charging nets 30 extra miles for the vehicle and estimated total range per full charge is 70-100 miles. The company says such quick charging can help double its effective range during a busy day of driving and recharging multiple times.

“Focus Electric’s innovative faster charging technology can help customers save money and get much more out of the car in a busy day of running around town and recharging between stops,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s Electrification Programs and Engineering.

As for the C-MAX pair, Ford says it has already sold 100,000 C-MAX variants in Europe since late 2010. Speaking of its entire vehicle lineup, the company says it holds approximately 500 patents that cover technologies in its electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in addition to several hundred patent-pending applications.

“C-MAX is the right car for the time as it combines the dynamics and quality of a traditional car with the versatility of a MAV [multi-activity vehicle] and leading fuel efficiency that you cannot even get from Toyota,” said Marakby.

These vehicles’ hybrid powertrains will combine lithium-ion batteries with electric motors augmenting all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engines, of which Ford says is “among the most advanced non-turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains Ford has ever offered.”

Regarding the outgoing Escape Hybrid, Automotive News reported a Ford executive said this powertrain option won’t be necessary, as Ford's EcoBoost four-cylinder engines will offer fuel economy "that approaches the existing hybrid."

That was one reason for it being dropped, the other reasons are the above-mentioned C-MAX hybrids which are expected to supplant the Escape Hybrid.

Sales for the Escape Hybrid have also been declining. The vehicle did see a big 97.4 percent month-over-month spike in November, but otherwise current-year-to-date sales of 9,009 units represents a 12.6-percent decline.

Ford began taking orders for the 2012 Focus Electric in November in California and New York/New Jersey markets. In 2012, availability of the Focus Electric will expand to another 15 launch markets “as production ramps up.”

Pricing is still a mystery for the C-MAX twins, but the Hybrid is expected to be in showrooms after June 2012 and the plug-in Energi is expected to follow some time later in the year.


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