Detroit Auto Show: Ford C-MAX Energi Hybrid

Ford didn’t show off all its new green stuff at the just ended Consumer Electronics Show in in Las Vegas – just the Focus Electric. It saved a couple of goodies for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including a big one: Its first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the C-MAX Energi, due out in 2012. Pointedly, Ford said the vehicle “delivers better charge-sustaining fuel economy than Chevrolet Volt.”

The C-MAX Energi – a five-passenger “multi-use vehicle”– pairs a lithium-ion battery and electric traction motor with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine. It runs in electric mode before switching over to the gasoline engine and hybrid mode when the battery is depleted. Ford pegged the vehicle’s range at “more than 500 miles … using the battery and engine – more than any other plug-in or extended-range electric vehicle.”

Plug-in hybrid, Ford C-MAX Energi

image via Ford

The C-MAX Energi employs the same five-point plug that Ford designed for the Focus Electric, and the company said that using a standard 120-volt home outlet “easily recharges 100 percent overnight.” In terms of useful car technologies, C-MAX Energi owners will have access to a suite of driver information systems – on-board and off-board – designed to help them manage the recharge process, manage the most eco-friendly route on-board, remotely control their vehicle’s charge and preconditioning settings, monitor battery state of charge and maximize energy efficiency to extend use of electric mode. These include mobile phone or web access using the Ford-developed MyFord Mobile.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.