Ford is it name, and hybrids are its new game.
Actually, Ford Motor Co. has been engineering hybrid powertrains for many years now, but its newest family of U.S.-produced gas-electric cars has the company seriously stoked as it encroaches on Toyota’s former stronghold with sales records and conquest sales.
The new lineup consists of the C-Max Hybrid, C-Max Energi, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Together, their sales are expected to shatter Ford’s previous best hybrid sales record with 37,000 units sold in the first five months of this year compared to 35,496 sold in 12 months for 2010. This, says Ford, represents more than a 375-percent increase over the same period last year.
The company says it is “now second only to Toyota in the number of hybrid vehicles it sells in the United States with its market share continuing to grow, up from 3 percent last year to an all-time-high 15.5 percent through April 2013.”
It’s been no secret Ford was gunning for Toyota’s hybrids since before the launch of these vehicles which share patents and similar, but not identical, powertrain architecture. Despite a few class action suits including this one – not actually mentioned by Ford – and ones following alleging exaggerated EPA mileage claims, Ford says its strategy is most definitely working.
“We’re working tirelessly to get as many hybrids to the market as we can right now to meet this unprecedented customer demand for our electrified vehicles,” said Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst. “The success we are experiencing with hybrids is energizing the whole company.”
The C-Max Hybrid which we recently reviewed and Fusion Hybrid are two of the most notable standouts, says Ford, and they’re bringing new buyers to the brand. C-Max conquest sales are said to be 63-64 percent, and the Fusion Hybrid is seeing a consistent 67 percent.
“The new lineup continues to draw new customers from Toyota and Honda, with most conquest sales coming from Toyota,” said Ford in a statement today.
Another marker of Ford’s new hybrids’ popularity is how little time they stay on dealer lots. Ford reports an average 14 days for the Fusion Hybrid, and in Los Angeles, it’s only 10 days
“We’re hearing from our dealers they literally can’t keep our hybrids in stock,” said C.J. O’Donnell, Ford electrification group marketing manager. “This is particularly evident in key markets like California.”
Ford’s newest “electrified vehicle,” the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, is also due to achieve its best sales month ever since its launch in February.
The company’s hybrid cars are all assembled at the massive Michigan Assembly Plant (MAP) in Wayne, Mich. This is the only such manufacturing facility that builds vehicles with five different fuel-efficient powertrains on the same assembly line. In addition to production of the C-Max Hybrid, the plant build the Focus Electric, C-Max Energi, and the conventional Focus and Focus ST.
Ford says of MAP that it is “the only one to build four vehicles that deliver 40 mpg or more in real-world driving.”
Previous advertisements and press releases have hammered the point home about Toyota-beating EPA mileage ratings for the Fusion and C-Max regular hybrids, and Lincoln MKZ hybrid.
Under the gun for these statements by some in the public, Ford’s press release today does not make a single reference to EPA-rated fuel economy, while it does call out notable sales details that Ford can unequivocally verify as it otherwise compares its products to Toyota’s.
And in any case, Ford indicates that is it is succeeding in its goals, and many others say the cars offer much to be weighed against the competition, even if the jury is still out on those mpg estimates.
As we’ve heard from readers, this is a divisive topic, and some have said they can meet and beat the EPA estimates, while others say they cannot.
The C-Max and Fusion hybrids offer 54 more horsepower and more torque than the Toyota Prius and Prius v’s 134 total system horsepower. At this point it appears that in order to maximize the Ford hybrids’ efficiency toward their 47 mpg EPA-rated figures, drivers may need to rely more on the zero-fuel-consumption electric drive mode by way of careful driving technique, and take care with the higher output gas side of the powertrain.
This is true of maximizing efficiency from the Toyotas as well, and despite some reports saying one miss their EPA numbers, heavy footed drivers can fall short from EPA rating for the Toyotas as well.
Judicious technique may however be more required with the Fords, although ultimately, this is a question still open to discussion.