To get an accurate reading of how a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle performs in battery-only mode and in overall extended range, two experiences are useful: lots of behind-the-wheel driving time under various driving conditions (altitude, climate temperature, average speed driven, stop-start, etc.) or a detailed conversation with the chief engineer who designed the car.

Brad Berman, editor of PluginCars.com and HybridCars.com, got a bit of both. He had a conversation with John Davis, Ford's chief engineer for the C-Max in North America, that clarified how the upcoming C-Max Energi differs from the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid in battery only and extended range modes. Berman issued a mea culpa after having criticized Ford for seemingly hyping up the superior capabilities of the C-Max Energi. "I learned that the C-Max Energi is indeed substantially more capable of driving purely as an EV than the Prius Plug-in," Berman writes.

Berman drove the Prius Plug-in Hybrid during a three-day loan and found it could go about 11 miles on all-electric driving, which matches the official EPA estimate, versus Ford's claim that the real number is six miles of battery only range. The distinction that Berman was able to clarify in talking to Davis is how to determine the vehicle's true "keep this thing in all-electric mode." Ford's "EV Now" button in the C-Max Energi allows the driver to access the battery-only driving experience better compared to the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's "relatively wimpy all-electric experience."

The "EV Now" feature makes the C-Max Energi much more like a Chevy Volt, Berman says. C-Max Energi drivers also have the option of using its "EV Later" button, which is similar to the Volt's Mountain Mode, to save battery power for later use, or they can keep the plug-in in "EV Auto" mode, in which the car operates more like the conventional C-Max hybrid.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      Mark Renburke
      • 2 Years Ago
      >The "EV Now" feature makes the C-Max Energi much more like a Chevy Volt, Berman says. I was hopeful this was true but do not believe it, especially after test driving the regular CMAX and seeing how underpowered the electric motor is. PeterScott wrote": " During full-throttle events below 85 mph, and while in EV Now mode, a dashboard prompt will appear, asking the driver to continue in all-electric mode or to switch into the EV automatic mode." Chevy Volt: " During full-throttle events even *above* 85 mph (in CD mode), the Volt accelerates briskly, usually pushing you back in your seat. So the Energi is really much more like the PIP than the Volt. But could be a good new alternative to the PIP! -Mark
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cool, it is looking to be a very good vehicle. When will it be for sale in Michigan? And are they thinking of making a pick-up truck version?
      Smurf
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a little clearer but it doesn't answer the question: In "EV Now" mode..... If you punch the gas pedal, will the ICE engine engage to provide additional acceleration, or will it stay in EV only mode?
        PeterScott
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        " During full-throttle events below 85 mph, and while in EV Now mode, a dashboard prompt will appear, asking the driver to continue in all-electric mode or to switch into the EV automatic mode." Read the original article. It sounds like as long as you are in EV Now mode and under 85 MPH, it will stay in electric mode.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PeterScott
          If you want it to auto-switch then don't put it in EV mode. I'm sure it does everything it can to run on electricity first in auto mode anyway.
          Ford Future
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PeterScott
          If you're in an emergency situation, you don't want to be reading the dashboard. It should auto-switch into gas mode if accaleration demand is greater then say 80%, or 60% of engine power. Sure, ninja's need super quiet operational vehicles, not most of America.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The distinction that Berman was able to clarify in talking to Davis is how to determine the vehicle's true "keep this thing in all-electric mode."" What language is that?
      Mark Renburke
      • 2 Years Ago
      >The "EV Now" feature makes the C-Max Energi much more like a Chevy Volt, Berman says. Note true. I was hopeful this was true but do not believe it, especially after test driving the regular CMAX and seeing how underpowered the electric motor is, and that there are no powertrain difference between it and the Energi. PeterScott wrote": " During full-throttle events below 85 mph, and while in EV Now mode, a dashboard prompt will appear, asking the driver to continue in all-electric mode or to switch into the EV automatic mode." Chevy Volt: " During full-throttle events and even *above* 85 mph (in Charge Depletion aka "EV" mode), the Volt accelerates, usually briskly, usually pushing you back in your seat. So the Energi is really much more like the PIP than the Volt. But could be a good new alternative to the PIP!
      Electron
      • 3 Years Ago
      He should have asked the chief engineer how long the battery will last. The Ford's puny 7.5KWH battery will get the heck cycled out of it while it is expected to cough up all the power needed to get a very heavy vehicle up to 85MPH. Doesn't sound like a recipe for long cycle life.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Electron
        It is not going to cycle any more than the battery in the Prius plug in. Once you've used your charge from home, you've used it, and that it has been employed moving the car to high speed is pretty well irrelevant. If you want to see really high cycling, go to the hybrids without plugs, as their small battery cycles many times a day. That is not really a problem with present chemistries, as for instance the battery in the Hyundai Sonata is rated by them as good for 300,000 miles. It does however put up the expense, and you don't get a battery like that for the same price per kwh as that in the Leaf. Bottom line is that providing the Ford engineers have done their job there should not be any problems. If they have cheaped out on the battery there will be.
          Austin Too
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @krona2k, I don't know about the Energi model, but I found the C-Max Hybrid is showing a warranty for "Hybrid Equipment" of 8 years/100,000 miles for 49 states, and 10 years/150,000 miles for California and other California emissions states. I'm assuming that includes the battery pack, and I'm also assuming it's going to be the same for the Energi.
          Electron
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Guess it's all pretty speculative at this point, we just don't know anything about the sort of battery chemistry Ford uses. I would feel a lot more confidence in this product if it were Toshiba's amazing SCiB battery they were using. Lithium titanate should be able to handle the sort of C rates this car will throw at its battery cells for a long time.
          Ziv
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Electron, I think that the 2013 Volt is using 10.8 kWh out of the new chemistry pack that has a total of 16.5 kWh, so GM is using a full 65% now. It looks like GM is pretty confident that their battery management system/thermal management system is robust enough that these packs are going to last around 10 years with little degradation of the vehicle AER. I don't think Volt owners are going to getting all of the original 38 miles 9 years down the road, but I bet they are still getting more than 30.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          The GM batteries were a first production variant. GM was right to be cautious in DOD. That does not mean that we can't reasonably use 80% now. That is not to say that Ford have not screwed up, of course, but the specs don't mean that they have, either.
          Ford Future
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Does that mean we should fly to CA and buy that car? Will the CA warranty be valid in another state?
          Austin Too
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          For those wondering about battery chemistry, according to this article, the cells are from Panasonic: http://www.plugincars.com/panasonic-selected-electrify-ford-fusion-energi-c-max-energi-plug-hybrids-113414.html Packs are fabricated by Ford in Michigan.
          krona2k
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I've been trying to find out exactly what kind of batteries they are going to be using, but I'm not sure they've disclosed that information. Does anyone here know?
          Electron
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Mind you, the PIP's battery gets ICE support once the going gets tough and all electric drive tops out at about 50MPH anyway. That means that the Ford's battery has a heavier job than the PIP's. Hopefully it's bigger size will sufficiently compensate for that.. Also to get ~20 miles out of 7.5KWH you need to cycle it pretty deep. Apparently Ford only keeps 1.5KWH in reserve which is 20% where GM keeps~40% in reserve in the Volt. Maybe GM is overly cautious?
          Naturenut99
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Ziv... That's why they have more than 20% reserve (was 40, now 35%), so they could guarantee (35/38) miles even at 10 years. They routinely said that during development and initial release.
          krona2k
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Thanks Austin, I guess from the energy density they're not lithium titanate. I wonder what kind of warranty the pack will have.
      Peter
      • 3 Years Ago
      That the Plug in Prius needs to launch an ICE to go up hill on the EPA cycle speaks to how weak a prospect it is, not how good the Ford is.
        purrpullberra
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Peter
        What's the difference? They are so alike and have no other comparables. Toyota made a lame car when compared to the Ford. So the Ford does have the most high-tech car, of the two. That speaks to how good it is. I think you're wrong on that point.
      Austin Too
      • 3 Years Ago
      You are a bit confused on the PIP capabilities. It's not Ford saying the PIP has a 6 mile electric-only range; that's what appears on the sticker. The 11 mile range is for full battery depeletion but with ICE assistance in the EPA test. Of course, as they say, your individual results might vary I believe there is a "hill" in the EPA test at 6 miles, and the PIP needs the ICE help to get up. Evidently the C-max Energi doesn't need ICE assistance for the same challenge which gives at least some hint of its capability.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Austin Too
        This "hill" test is why this looks like my next car. This is the BEST BUY in this category.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          Yay, you are happy.... :)
      Brinto
      • 3 Years Ago
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      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds great. Very well explained. My only question remaining would be in relation to the info that "if you drive at elevated speeds you will experience significantly less than the stated 20 miles AER". What is elevated speeds? 85mph or 65mph? Either way this vehicle sounds like it has a good tradeoff between driving all electric and adding cost. If you have your own green electricity (perhaps solar) and want to use as much as often instead of gas, a Volt is still a better choice (a Tesla S perhaps even better). But for many others, this vehicle is a good compromise.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      While I'm sure that Toyota will use this competition to make a better Prius, this shouldn't be a fight between plug-in and EREV vehicles. People shouldn't feel bad about driving the plug-in Prius, it is still better than my ICE car and 99% of other cars on the road. And the more electric vehicles we can get on the road the better.
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