Survey: Californians Slowing Down to Save Fuel and Want Peppy Hybrids; Ford Answers with C-MAX Hybrid

Aug 23, 2012, 13:11 ET from Ford Motor Company

DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

  • New survey on hybrid vehicle trends finds 77 percent of California drivers are likely to consider a hybrid vehicle if they don't have to give up the performance and technology expected from gasoline-powered vehicles
  • As gasoline prices have risen, 98 percent of Californians are serious about saving fuel, including 46 percent who drive slower and even 10 percent who claim to draft behind larger vehicles
  • Ford's new C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city and highway ratings – 7 mpg better than Toyota Prius v on the highway – and 188 horsepower, comparable with leading gas-powered small utilities, and 54 horsepower more than Prius and Prius v to address a key concern for 40 percent of current hybrid owners
  • C-MAX Hybrid addresses Californians' concerns about hybrid costs with a $1,300 lower base price than Prius v and a hybrid payback period of two years compared with leading small crossovers

Many Californians are slowing down to save fuel and say a hybrid vehicle is the best way they can help live greener, according to a new hybrid vehicle trends survey. With a majority poised to plunge into the hybrid market, only a few reservations such as price, performance and technology considerations seem to be holding them back.

Enter Ford's all-new 2013 C-MAX Hybrid, which Ford designed to deliver a "real-car experience", understanding that the novelty of simply driving a hybrid vehicle isn't enough to convince the majority of today's car buyers to accept common tradeoffs like reduced performance.

Ford C-MAX Hybrid is already being praised for achieving 47 mpg city and highway – up to 7 mpg better than Toyota Prius v – with a $1,300 lower price, a projected 15 exclusive technologies and 50 more horsepower. This makes C-MAX Hybrid the first compact hybrid to achieve performance rivaling gas-powered vehicles, sought by the droves of hybrid intenders.

"The hybrid market has been relatively flat for a number of years because, we think, many customers are waiting for a hybrid that doesn't come with sacrifices," says Michael O'Brien, Ford's electrified vehicle marketing manager. "We think the new C-MAX Hybrid could be an answer since it performs like a real vehicle while still offering leading fuel economy, technologies and affordability."

The survey – conducted by Penn Schoen & Berland for Ford in early August as the company launches five new electrified vehicles and plans to triple EV production capacity by 2013 – finds that 77 percent of Californians are likely to consider a hybrid vehicle if they don't have to sacrifice performance and technology.

Polk U.S. registration data shows that one in every four electrified vehicles registered in the country are located in California, making it by far the largest EV market in the country and the logical choice for Ford to launch C-MAX Hybrid.

Among the survey's key findings:

  • 46 percent of Californian drivers say they're driving slower, 38 percent say they are coasting more to stops and 10 percent claim they are drafting larger vehicles to help save fuel
  • 77 percent of Californian drivers would consider buying hybrid vehicle, but still some have reservations.  Among those who are less interested in buying a hybrid, 39 percent are concerned with the higher price typically associated with the advanced vehicles, 20 percent think there will be a technology shortfall
  • Also, more than 40 percent of current hybrid owners say their vehicle has performance comparable to a gas-powered vehicle
  • Californian drivers rank a car with good fuel economy as the top energy-saving product on a list that also includes energy-efficient appliances, light bulbs and even solar panels
  • More than a quarter of Californian drivers would invest $1,000 in disposable income on hybrid vehicles and solar power technologies
  • 87 percent of California hybrid intenders always or sometimes spend more upfront on energy-efficient products to save money later
  • The ability to save money on gas is the top consideration for buying a hybrid vehicle
  • 60 percent of Californian drivers said they would consider a Ford hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle as Ford leads hybrid perceptions among domestic automakers

MAX fuel economy, MAX performance, MAX price

The new C-MAX Hybrid is Ford's first-ever dedicated entry to take on Toyota Prius in the compact hybrid market, a segment that accounts for 65 percent of all hybrid sales.

C-MAX Hybrid carries a 47/47/47 mpg city/highway/combined EPA fuel economy rating – 7 mpg better than Prius v on the highway – 15 projected exclusive and advanced technologies and 54 more horsepower than Prius v, putting it on par with leading gasoline-powered compact vehicles.

Ford for the first time is looking to attract existing hybrid customers in the heart of the market.  Perhaps more importantly, C-MAX Hybrid is part of an effort to expand the market by targeting customers who want to save money at the pump without the common hybrid tradeoffs of performance and price.

"We knew long ago that at this stage of the evolving hybrid vehicle market it would no longer be good enough to simply stick a hybrid label on a vehicle and hope for the best," said O'Brien. "Hybrid vehicle customers are first and foremost very smart – they do their research and are very informed. They know what they want and will go the extra mile to get it."

Case in point: Eighty-two percent of Californian drivers said they always or sometimes invest more upfront to buy a more efficient product for long-term savings.

That's especially good news considering C-MAX Hybrid is expected to be America's most affordable hybrid utility vehicle with a base price of $25,995, including destination and delivery, which is $1,300 lower than Prius v.

Further, C-MAX Hybrid delivers an expected payback period of two years for the hybrid technology premium compared with leading small crossovers. This is about half the four-year period Ford research shows could trigger more mainstream hybrid sales.

Twenty years of Ford hybrid innovations

Most California-based hybrid intenders say reliability and maintenance costs are vital factors for purchase consideration.

C-MAX Hybrid and Ford's other electrified vehicles launching this year benefit from 20 years of research and innovation behind the software and hardware technology offered. Such advancements have helped Ford amass a portfolio of nearly 500 patents in the area of hybrid technology.

Ford's hybrid taxi fleet has logged more than 80 million miles in California alone during the past decade – more than quadruple the number of miles logged by Toyota's Prius lineup. Yet, among the nearly 43 million battery cells Ford has tested or seen put to work in customer vehicles, fewer than 10 issues have been documented.

Another top hybrid vehicle purchase driver is the ability to deliver safety and convenience technologies found in conventional vehicles. C-MAX Hybrid includes standard safety features such as AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control) and Curve Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and SOS Post-Crash Alert System. That's in addition to seven standard airbags and features such as MyKey®, rearview camera system and active park assist for worry-free parallel parking.

Additionally, C-MAX Hybrid is expected to offer 15 class-exclusive features such as a hands free, foot-activated liftgate for convenient and easy access to the large cargo area.

Power of choice

The all-new C-MAX Hybrid is part of Ford's first dedicated line of hybrid vehicles that also includes the 2013 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid – coming later this fall – is projected to deliver 550 miles of total range, including more than 20 miles in electric-only mode, nearly double the electric-only range of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid.

Further, C-MAX Energi delivers the top electric-only speed capability of any plug-in hybrid – 85 mph – more than 20 mph higher than the Toyota Prius plug-in. The C-MAX hybrids headline Ford's transformed lineup, one third of which will feature a model with 40 mpg or more in 2012, building on the company's commitment to give fuel-efficiency-minded customers the power of choice.

In addition to C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, Ford's three other electrified vehicles are:

  • Focus Electric: Production began late 2011; America's most fuel-efficient compact with 110 MPGe city; charge time of four hours with the available 240-volt charging station, which is nearly half the time as Nissan Leaf
  • All-new Fusion Hybrid: Coming this fall; 47 mpg expected to beat Toyota Camry Hybrid by 5 mpg highway
  • Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid: Will begin production by the end of 2012; aiming to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world

More information about C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi can be found here. Press releases, videos, photos and other material related to Ford's electrified vehicles can be found here.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 168,000 employees and about 65 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

About the Survey

Research and analysis conducted by Penn Schoen & Berland, in Aug. 2012. Research methodology includes 1,996 online surveys of licensed U.S. drivers age 18 and above.

SOURCE Ford Motor Company