PhotoDo you think of Ford as the leader in fuel economy? Didn't think so. Neither does anyone else that we know of but that's not stopping Ford from blowing its horn about the rising mpg ratings of its expanding hybrid fleet.

With three new hybrids already on the market and two more on the way, Ford is going after Toyota, which currently holds the top spot among most mileage-minded consumers. Hyundai had the title for a little while but has now admitted it overstated mileage claims for nearly 1 million cars in the 2011-13 model years.

"Ford has eight products that deliver 40 mpg or more. We can beat Toyota in every segment where they compete," C.J. O'Donnell, Ford marketing manager for electrified vehicles, said at the San Francisco launch of the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, Automotive News reported. "We're not going to be shy about pointing out those advantages to customers."

Ford may have its work cut out for it, at least when it comes to raising consumers' awareness of its hybrid offerings. We conducted a computerized sentiment analysis and found only 1,700 consumer postings about Ford hybrids to social media sites over the last year. That's the bad news.

The good news is that the sentiments were highly positive, hitting the 100% mark several times throughout the year. This is partly a result of the small sample size but should nevertheless bring a little holiday cheer to Ford.


Aggressive edge

Ford is taking an aggressive edge in a series of new ads, comparing the C-Max to the Toyota Prius, claiming the 2013 C-MAX Energi is America’s "most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid" – certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to offer the equivalent of 105 miles per gallon (MPGe) combined – 5 MPGe more than Prius Plug-in.

“Ford’s strategy to deliver the power of choice for leading fuel economy across our lineup seems very well timed as our customers and dealers are showing significant interest in vehicles such as the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid,” O’Donnell said in an earlier press release. “C-MAX Energi joins C-MAX Hybrid to help Ford take on Prius for the first time, with great early signs as the hybrid outsold Prius v in its first full month of sales in October.”

Five models in 2013

PhotoBy early 2013, Ford says it will be the first automaker to sell three plug-in electrified vehicles when the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid arrives. In total, Ford is launching five new electrified vehicles, including:
  • C-MAX Hybrid: C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city, highway and combined – up to 7 mpg better than Prius v – plus 50 more horsepower and 15 exclusive technologies, according to Ford.
  • C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid: Ford’s first production plug-in hybrid delivers 108 MPGe city EPA rating, 21 miles of all-electric range that’s more than triple Prius plug-in’s six miles, and 620 miles of overall range on a tank of gas, Ford said. The vehicle’s “real car” performance includes 195 horsepower (versus Prius plug-in’s 134 horsepower), engaging driving dynamics and a quiet interior – all with a leading EV-only speed of 85 mph, 20 mph above the Prius plug-in
  • Fusion Hybrid: EPA-rated 47 mpg city, highway and combined, up to 6 mpg better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid combined.
  • Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid (will begin production by the end of this year): Aims to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world with more than 100 MPGe, according to Ford.
  • Focus Electric: America’s most fuel-efficient five-passenger car, with an EPA-certified 110 MPGe city rating and 105 MPGe combined, beating Nissan Leaf by 6 MPGe while offering more motor power and more standard features, the automaker claims.

Certified dealers

PhotoFord is not allowing just any dealer to sell the C-Max and its other electrified cars. So far it has more than 200  dealers certified to sell its lineup of plug-in electrified vehicles.

The first 67 certified dealers were in California, New York and New Jersey and have been selling the Focus Electric since spring. By early 2013, Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi will be joined by Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid – expected to be the world’s most fuel-efficient sedan by achieving more than 100 MPGe in electric mode – and available at certified dealers nationwide.

To become certified to sell the plug-ins, dealers first had to satisfy a list of  requirements, including:

  • One of the two required charging stations at the dealership must be in the customer area and the other must be in the service area
  • At least one Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi must be available at all times for demonstrations and events
  • Of the sales consultant, sales manager, service advisor and service manager jobs at each location, 80 percent must meet specific electric vehicle training certification requirements that cover topics including advanced knowledge of electrification
  • Each showroom will have point-of-purchase display materials including digital assets and window signage
  • Participation in a Ford Go Green Dealer Onsite Facility Assessment to identify energy- and cost-saving opportunities with a goal of facilitating energy efficiency, lower operating expenses and carbon footprint reduction.


Photo credits: Ford Motor Co.

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