Last December, I speculated that Ford’s upcoming C-Max mini-minivan may be exactly the right vehicle at exactly the right time. After all, it offered the utility of a minivan (OK a minivan in 3/4 scale) with the added benefits of reasonable fuel economy and park-it-anywhere convenience. Turns out that I was wrong, but only partially so: Ford has decided to kill the three-row, seven-passenger C-Max in the U.S. market, at least for the time being. Instead, we’re getting two variants of the two-row C-Max, but here’s where things get interesting.
Both versions of the C-Max will be be hybrids. Ford will offer a conventional parallel hybrid design (called the C-Max Hybrid, of course) and a plug-in hybrid called the C-Max Energi. Like most plug-in hybrids, the Energi will have a limited range and limited speed on battery power alone, but will otherwise function much like a conventional automobile or parallel hybrid.
It’s clear that Ford is looking to pull hybrid buyers out of Toyota showrooms, since the two-row C-Max will be targeted to the same shopper looking for a Toyota Prius. Look for both variants to hit Ford showrooms sometime in 2012, at pricing that should be remarkably similar to equivalent Toyota Prius models.