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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Five fuel efficient cars are vying for the “Green Car of the Year” award, which will be announced in only a few weeks during the L.A. Auto Show.
Among the many things going on at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the course of a year, there is the very messy task of crashing car after car after car.
The Ford Kuga based 2013 Ford Escape will be available next year, promising to be a significant improvement to the outgoing model. However, Ford has announced that it will drop the Escape hybrid powertrain.
Outgoing Ford Escape Hybrid sales through Novembers have fallen to only 9,009 units, a 13 percent drop from November of last year. But more than the Escape Hybrid’s lack of sales success, Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of global product development, explains that the 2013 Ford EcoBoost four-cylinder engines will deliver fuel economy numbers that, “approaches the existing hybrid.” Kuzak also believes that a higher mpg rating will not be necessary to draw buyers.
More so, Ford will be saving its hybrid offerings for a brand-new-for-U.S. model, the Ford C-Max, which Ford developed in order to compete with the hybrid leader, Toyota Prius. The Ford C-Max is a multiactivity vehicle and will provide the same functionality and practicality of the Escape while delivering better fuel efficiency. The C-Max will be on sale by the second half of 2012.
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Escape
GALLERY: 2013 Ford C-Max
Ford has announced it expects its upcoming C-Max Hybrid multi-activity vehicle to achieve an average fuel economy rating of over 42 mpg, exceeding the rating of the recently released Toyota Prius v. In addition, the C-Max Energie electric vehicle will top the Prius plug-in hybrid’s electric only mode rating of 87-mpge (miles per gallon equivalent).
Both models will use a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine mated to Ford’s next-gen hybrid system. Ford also claims the plug-in model will be able to achieve a total range of over 500 miles, while it, along with the Focus Electric, will get a new version of the MyFord Touch system, designed to work with electric vehicles and integrate the MyFord Mobile app.
These two C-Max variants join the Focus Electric, expanding Ford’s 40-mpg range, which already includes special Fiesta and Focus models. Ford has also said it will add three more 40-mpg or more rated models in the near future, resulting in a lineup where one third of vehicles offered can be had with a 40-mpg version.
GALLERY: Ford C-Max Hybrid
GALLERY: Ford C-Max Energi
The 2012 Ford Focus will get a 1.0L 3-Cylinder Ecoboost engine, but it will only be offered in the North American market. Ford says that the motor will make 118 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque at just 1300 rpm.
An overboost feature will provide short bursts of up to 147 lb-ft of torque, while the flywheel and front pulley are designed to reduce vibrations without the need for a balance shaft. Ford says that the engine will also be used on the European C-Max van and the B-Max crossover.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Ford will sell its C-Max minivan as a hybrid model only, in an effort to further compete with hybrid offerings like the Toyota Prius V, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, which are all offered in 5-door bodystyles.
The C-Max will come only in a 5-seater configuration, with hybrid and plug-in hybrid variations offered. Ford originally planned to offer the car with both a gasoline engine and seven seats. Ford is looking to triple production of electric vehicles and hybrids to more than 100,000 models by 2013.
“Whether people want a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or full battery electric vehicle, we have a family of vehicles for them to consider, providing a range of options to best meet their needs and support their driving habits and lifestyles,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of marketing, sales and service.
Despite the ease with which Ford could produce a three-row or gasoline-only version of the C-Max, the move is likely a result of Ford’s desire to brand the C-Max as a “green” vehicle by way of its hybrid-only powertrain, in the same way that the Toyota Prius is synonymous with the term.
[Source: Automotive News]
Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford (great-grandson of Henry Ford) revealed to Fortune magazine that his namesake automaker will apparently launch a global line of electric vehicles, with 25 percent of Ford’s lineup available with some degree of electrification by 2020.
Ford cited the electric Focus and both plug-in and fully electric versions of the C-Max as the start of a shift towards electric vehicles as a viable alternative to gasoline powered passenger cars, but the surprising nugget of information within the article was Ford’s calls for government involvement in the propagation of electric vehicles.
“I think it’s a matter of national security to have a competitive American battery industry,” said Ford. “Washington should increase R&D spending here unless they want to cede the development of batteries to other nations.” Ford cited China as the most imminent threat, as they have made significant strides in lithium-ion battery technology, and Ford fears that America will fall behind in one of the most important emerging industries.
Furthermore, Ford also laid out a vision for future cars that is heavily reliant on smart-phones, WiFi and GPS technology, which would enable cars to talk to one another and share information on traffic jams and other pertinent data, all in the name of eco-friendliness.
[Source: The Globe and Mail]
Soccer moms sometimes get a raw deal because of the vehicle of choice. But it’s not like they have much of a choice – a minivan is the best-equipped vehicle to haul their aspiring David Beckhams to games and practices. It’s time to stop mocking the soccer mom, and automakers are setting out to make the minivan cool… but will moms jump on the minivan band wagon?
At the recent Detroit Auto Show, a group of mothers from MomsLikeMe.com critiqued the latest wave of minivans. For the most part, they liked all the new creature comforts they came with, but when it came to the vehicle’s cool factor, they just couldn’t see it becoming any hipper than it already is (which means, not at all). They agreed that the minivan is all about practicality, not style sense.
“It is not worth the hassle to try and stuff everything and all your kids into a regular car,” said Patti Cleland, a 42-year-old mother of three from Grosse Pointe Woods.
The MomsLikeMe crew check gave critiques of the all-new Ford C-Max, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan and Volkswagen Routan. Even though it was smaller, the C-Max scored high marks, and so did the Sienna, thanks to its four up-front cupholders, the dual moonroofs and the reclining second-row seats with leg rests.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press]
Ford‘s last minivan, the Freestar, left the market in tatters roughly 6 years ago, lagging badly behind the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. For 2011, Ford is back, with a vehicle that couldn’t be more different.
The Ford C-Max ditches the Freestar’s antiquated architecture and inefficient V6 for a pair of 4-cylinders, including a 1.6L Ecoboost version. A dual clutch transmission also makes an appearance, and the overall footprint is much smaller, closer to a Mazda5 than any other van on the market.
Although it’s sold in Europe as the Grand C-Max, this car is likely the smallest vehicle North Americans could stomach. A “5+2″ seating arrangement, similar to the first generation Honda Odyssey, allows for maximum flexibility, while features like MyFordTouch and Park Assist will help vault the C-Max ahead of the Mazda5 in terms of gadgets. Ford quotes a price starting “in the mid-20′s” suggesting a more premium branding strategy rather than the previous method of selling everything from a dirt cheap sub-20k model to a loaded-to-the-gills luxury van.
Also of note is the hands free liftgate, which can be activated by sweeping one’s foot underneath the bumper. A feature like this is sure to appeal to the target demographic far beyond any turbocharged engine or sporty suspension.
Gallery: Ford C-Max
Although Toyota has been hyping their new Prius MPV for months, Ford‘s announcement of not one, but two hybrid minivans is sure to take the wind out of Toyota’s sails (no pun intended).
The C-Max Hybrid and Energi (Ford’s name for the plug-in variant) will be 5-seaters only, and use a lithium-ion battery pack, considered to be the next generation of hybrid battery technology. The car will also be built at Ford’s Wayne, Michigan plant, the first plant that will build electric and gasoline vehicles side by side.
The C-Max Energi will offer a number of interesting advantages; the ability to go 500 miles on a single tank of gas (the longest range for any plug-in), the chance to use HOV lanes with only a single occupant (in states such as California, where this is allowed) and fuel economy that bests the Fusion Hybrids 41/36 mpg rating. Ford also claims that the Energi will exceed the Fusion’s EV-only speed of 47 mph.
Visually, the Hybrid and Energi are distinguished by subtle fender badges, with the Energi’s charging port glowing upon connecting with a charging paddle. The Energi will be on sale in 2012, the same time as the Prius minivan. An interesting battle looks to be shaping up, with Ford’s newly resurgent lineup taking on the name in hybrids.
Gallery: Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi
It’s tied in to the same type of sensor in the key fob that allows for keyless access and allows you to open the liftgate by simply motioning with your foot under the rear bumper. (Genius, we know). To help demonstrate just how easy and effective it is, Ford has released a video highlighting the feature.
If that’s got your interest in the C-Max, then you might also want to know that it seats 7 in a 5+2 configuration, has sliding side doors and can even be had with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 168-hp and 173 ft-lbs of torque.
GALLERY: 2012 Ford C-Max
Check out the video after the jump:
Most of you are familiar with the Chevrolet Orlando, the minivan touted by Chevrolet as a game-changer that was canned at the last minute for the United States.
We were lucky enough to get our first glimpse of the Orlando during its unveiling here in Paris, and it’s actually a bit larger than expected.
The Orlando gets a choice of 4-cylinder engines, ranging in displacement from a 1.8L four-cylinder to a pair of 2.0L diesels, with a max output of 163 horsepower. Inside, the Orlando is pretty similar to its Cruze stablemate, but with a couple extra seats. Ford’s C-Max, which is going to be sold over here, is the more interesting American minivan if you ask us.
Check out the press release after the jump