Ford C-MAX Energi Boasts 85 MPH Electric-Only Top Speed

Watch out Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Ford’s C-MAX Energi is gunning for you.

Yes, that’s kind of a bold opener, but it is not presumption on our part. In a recent announcement, Ford has again named its perceived rival and claimed more advantages for the pending plug-in hybrid wearing a blue oval badge.

These include an 85 mph top speed in electric-only mode and a switchable “EV mode” that can serve up electric-only power on demand for up to or over 20 miles range. The Toyota plug-in hybrid has a top electric-only speed of 62 mph, and careful accelerator use must be employed to prevent the gas engine from kicking on, such as during hard accelerating. Its EPA-rated electric-only range is six miles and the EPA states it can do 11 miles with electricity plus gasoline.

“We understand customers place a high value on the zero-emission electrified driving experience,” said Ford Vice President of Powertrain Engineering Joe Bakaj. “This inspired our engineering team to equip the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid with a button that enables drivers to choose an electric-only driving mode.”

Given the actual highway speeds Americans often find themselves driving – whether attempting to go with a slightly faster flow, or in those 75 mph or even 80 mph-limited areas that practically allow it – an all-electric speed well in excess of 62 mph could be seen as an advantage.

Ford’s pretty sure of it, and mentions it as such, naming the plug-in Prius several times, and even points out it has a small nominal range advantage of 550 miles versus 540.


C-MAX Energi EV Button.

As for the “EV Mode,” the Ford actually has three EV modes selectable via a button on the center stack. Following is Ford’s description of each:

EV: Auto

“In EV: Auto mode, the vehicle automatically takes advantage of plug-in charge,” said Kevin Layden, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “When the charge is depleted, C-MAX Energi operates as a full hybrid.”

The powertrain computer automatically selects the appropriate blend of battery usage and engine usage based on demand and the state of battery charge.

EV: Now

In EV: Now mode, the vehicle operates in EV mode using plug-in power. The gasoline engine will not operate unless an override setting is selected or certain conditions are present such as the accelerator pedal being fully depressed and the driver enabling the gas engine. EV: Now also activates a special Manage EV screen to monitor functionality.

To achieve the EV range estimate shown on the corresponding gauge, drivers are given coaching cues to maximize EV mode. Additionally, use of climate power and energy gauges will further help drivers manage vehicle energy use.

EV: Later

The EV: Later setting saves plug-in power for later use, like transitioning from highway to lower-speed residential neighborhood use. C-MAX Energi operates in normal hybrid mode, using both gas engine and electric motor. Plug-in power is reserved until the driver switches to the EV: Now or EV: Auto setting.

“C-MAX Energi uses technology in new ways to provide customers smart choices in maximizing their energy usage based on where and how they drive their vehicles,” Bakaj said.


The C-MAX Energi will be sold for $33,745 including a $795 destination charge. Following an available $3,750 federal tax credit it would come in at $29,995, and in the largest market of California, it may be eligible for an additional rebate of $1,500.

The base Toyota starts at $32,760 including a $760 destination charge, and is eligible for a $2,500 federal credit and a $1,500 California rebate as well.

Incidentally, it was recently reported that the average new U.S. car price has now just topped $30,000.

Considering the Ford has more than 20 miles range in electric-only mode, Ford says it offers “more than triple the electric-only range of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing methods.”

Prius Plug-In EPA label

This is the Toyota label. We do not have a Ford label as of yet. Note all-electric range at 6 miles. With care this can be doubled, but this is what the EPA labeled it with, prompting a boast by Ford of “triple” the range.

How the Ford will fare against the competitively priced and otherwise just about efficient plug-in Prius remains to be seen, as Toyota has a loyal following and a head start with its Prius line.

And for that matter, how it will also fare next to the Chevy Volt is also in question. For what it’s worth, the Volt has a 100 mph top EV speed, and perhaps more importantly, an EPA-rated 38 miles all-electric range that was intended to appeal to more drivers hoping to primarily stay in all-electric mode. It does cost more however, starting just under $40,000 but is eligible for double the federal tax credit at $7,500 and the $1,500 California rebate, narrowing the potential net price differential.

The Ford C-MAX Energi should spice things up though, to say the least. It will be available “this fall” in 19 markets through EV certified Ford dealers with nationwide roll out expected by “early 2013.”

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  • Chrissy

    There is no such thing as Zero emissions. Where do these manufacturers think the electricity comes from to recharge the batteries? Space? 50% of electricity in the US is produced by coal or petroleum.

  • BobW


    You’re right. Time to support nuclear power!

  • Bobbin

    Yes, it did actually come from space. Perhaps you noticed that great burning ball of gas in the sky.

  • Chris C.

    Ah yes, the tired “electricity comes from coal” argument.

    It’s basically a myth. Sure, electricity does come from coal. But here the shocker: EVEN COUNTING IN THE DIRTY COAL POWER, ELECTRIC CARS ARE CLEANER THAN GAS CARS.

    This has been shown over and over in what are called “well to wheel analyses”. Starting with the fossil fuel in the ground, and ending with the car moving down the road, these analyses calculate ALL of the energy and emissions expended in the processes. And electric generation / transmission / mobility actually BEATS the oil process.

    In fact, it take more electricity to just to refine a gallon of gasoline than the electricity to move an electric car a comparable distance down the road! Wait, what?!

    Of course, if your power source is cleaner than dirty coal (e.g. a mix of sources) then EVs are a huge win.

    The more you scrutinize electric vehicles, the better they look.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    The coal only accounts for less than 36% of the total electricity generation in the latest qtr. As NG gets cheaper, less and less coal are used to generate electricity.

    A single coal plant is cheaper and easier to clean up than millions of cars on the Road. You can always install solar on your own roof to offset your daily commute in electricity. A 3KW system can easily produce enogh power per day to power your EV for up to 40 miles. 40 Miles per day is about 12,000 miles per year.

    Also, did anyone noticed the fine prints where it says that Prius Plug in is rated 6 MILES ELECTRIC ONLY?

  • Van

    Yes, this article asks an important question, why does the Prius PHV cost as much as the Ford-CMAX? The Ford sports an 8 vice 4 kwh battery and if the cost is $600/kwh, then the Prius should be $2400 cheaper but is only $1000 dollars cheaper. Then the C-Max goes three times as far in EV mode, can travel at freeway speed in EV mode, and is bigger than the Prius PHV.

    Bottom line, Toyota needs to dramatically improve both the price and performance of its plug-in to compete with Ford.

    If the Fusion Energi also sports the C-Max performance and better price, I think it will also smoke the Volt sales. Time will tell.

  • Chuck in NJ……

    As usual Ford is full of it…..seems like Ford always must deflate what Toyota HAS to offer and accomplish……I own and drive the PHEV Prius Plug IN…..simply put….the ALL Electric Range xceeds what the sticker has quoted…..I drive 13 miles to work ONE WAY everday…….funny I leave my garage daily around 4 00 sit in traffic usually min. one half of the time of which is usually a 30 minute run……. in traffic 45 minute run ……..and I always seem to have 4 or more miles remaining before my first charge of EV RANGE………. point………the PHEV has unlimited Mpge as well……….usually I would have thought that the vehicle would have not even placed close to the 95 Mpge and 50 Mpg/Hybrid……….so as to clear up ALL the Ford bashing of Toyotas research ………..that if the vehicle is LIGHTER with less battery weight as well as vehicle weight……. along with frequent charges……. you will do fine with keeping up with what consumers needs are and what the competition claims…..its so gratifying to purchase a vehicle that gets what the manufacturer claims in Mpge….ALL electric mode/Mpg Hybrid mode…..I have filled up the 10.6 gal. PHEV once monthly since being in replacement of the Prius 5…… I traded for the Phev Plug In version Prius in March….so I have gone way over the quotes that the sticker boasts…which is truthful on Toyotas part……each tank has gone over 1,200 miles of EV/HV combination driving….oh and the EV range always is about 75 % of the total driving modes……so I wonder how truthful Ford shall be……I drove Ford vehicles my entire 15 years previous before switching to Toyota HybridSynergyDrive vehicles…..the Explorers at that point were ALWAYS way off on the sticker figures…..WAY OFF… gee Ii wonder why most consumers switch over to Toyota Green Technology …….Ford shall NEVER catch up to the Green that Toyota has ALREADY placed upon us…..the Synergy Drive has the smoothest transition when the Prius goes in between modes…..and to finish the Pedal being too touchy is TRUE but the vehicle goes right back into all EV within less than 30 seconds of forward drive….it is exactly like the transition of the Prius Liftback….Yes the Iconic original Prius from 2001 and forward ongoing……so if the consumers are still purchasing the Prius Liftback at the rate of 16,428 as of the month ending July of 2012…..this must be a pretty good estimate which that when gas goes up again……which is showing as of August 2012 already…I would gather the Prius Liftback has been well accepted as compared in earlier years…..the PHEV is for a traveler that has access to charging frequently and WILL do what the sticker quotes under the right conditions as I showed above…..this last tankful has taken me 30 days and still is at one quarter tank left…..It without doubt will be about 40 plus days by the time the month ends… terms of Mpge… this point the equivalent to gas only is 159 Mpge……one tank 1,350 miles thus far on 10.6 gal. of gasoline…..and exceeds 56 Mpg/Hybrid mode… who is being truthful here……not Ford………..

  • wowlfie

    that is BS. Anyone who buys an EV and uses roof top solar panels–which is a majority of EV owners–uses no polluting power source of any kind and drives free of charge by using the sun.