Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid buzz powers up

Ford is gearing up for the full release of its 2013 C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, which was recently rated by the EPA at a 108 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in the city and a combined rating of 100 MPGe.

The car manufacturer has also cranked up work both at an assembly plant in Michigan as well as the number of its dealers which will be selling the car. It looks to already be on its way to “Ford EV-certified” dealers in half the states across the country.

The C-Max Energi, which Ford said will deliver up to 620 miles of range on a single tank of gas and a fully charged battery, will price for nearly $30,000 starting after a federal tax credit. The company seems to believe those buying this car will make up that price rather quickly, noting it could save one “almost $7,000 in fuel costs over the course of five years compared with the average new vehicle.”

To get this vehicle quickly to market it is being built in Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, which is said to be “the only manufacturing site in the world to build vehicles with five different fuel-efficient powertrains on the same line and the only one to build four vehicles that deliver 40 mpg or more in real-world driving.” Once used to produce two full-size SUVs, the plant now focused on making use of what is described by Ford as product platform designs that enable the use of programmable equipment to produce multiple variations of products in one facility.

After leaving the plant, the C-Max Energi of course needs a critical number of dealerships where it is available at if Ford hopes to make an honest run at the vehicle’s closest competitor, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid. It has thus “tripled” the number of dealers this car is certified to be at, which as of the time of this writing is more than 200.

The company said that this growth “comes as the number of new vehicle shoppers considering plug-in hybrids has grown to 25 percent. In total, 900 dealers are either certified or enrolled for certification, nearly triple Ford’s initial plans for about 350 certified dealers by early 2013.” The first 67 certified dealers were in California, New York and New Jersey and have been selling the Focus Electric since spring.

What exactly does certification mean to Ford for dealerships wanting to sell vehicles which have a plug-in component? It is a process that includes installation of at least two onsite charging stations and participation in highly specialized training in the field of electric vehicles.

“From fuel efficiency to innovative technologies to the performance and price, everything we’ve done for the last 20 years in the area of hybrid vehicle technology has led up to this,” said John Davis, chief nameplate engineer, C-MAX Energi, in a statement.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling