It's a green-letter day for Ford on the international stage. While Australia goes without, the US market has welcomed the new Focus Electric this week, and now Ford has introduced the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid.
The current secon-generation C-Max has been available in Europe since last year, but with the lack of buyer interest in people-movers, Ford's local arm has resisted the temptation to bring the model here.
More's the pity, because in Europe and the US, the hybrid versions of the C-Max are set to take the clean-runnin' fight to Toyota's Prius V - a people-moving hybrid we'll soon see on local roads.
Ford has yet to release the all-important numbers, but the carmaker says its European-built C-Max Hybrid will offer a better fuel economy than the Prius V, while the C-Max Energi will get you further than the Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).
That means better than 5.9 l/100km to best the Prius V, and - the one number that has been revealed - an 800km driving range, compared to the Prius PHEV's 764km.
“C-MAX is the right car for the time as it combines the dynamics and quality of a traditional car with the versatility of a MAV and leading fuel efficiency that you cannot even get from Toyota”, Ford's Electrification boss Sherif Marakby said.
Both cars utilise an Atkinson-cycle 2.0 litre petrol engine, mated to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack - technology usually reserved for pure electric vehicles.
The hybrid system allows the two powertrains to operate separately - meaning the electric motor can drive the car on its own - or in the more regular parallel mode.
The petrol engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. On its own, the electric motor can drive the vehicle at low speeds, while working with the engine at higher speeds.
Speaking with TMR today, Ford Australia's Communications Director, Sinead Phipps, reiterated the carmaker's position on the C-Max's local potential.
"There obviously needs to be a market for any vehicle we launch and, at this point, we simply don’t think there is enough of a market demand for a C-Max type of vehicle here in Australia," Mrs Phipps said.
She said that adding hybrid versions would only add more complexity to the range, "and there is little, if any, demand for a hybrid in that segment."