Ford Sued over Use of Hybrid Technology

 

Ford C-Max Energi near Courthouse Towers

Ford C-Max Energi near Courthouse Towersin Arches National Park.

Paice LLC filed a lawsuit yesterday, February 19, 2014, claiming the C-Max and other Ford Hybrids infringe its patents on electric and internal combustion engine optimization to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions without a loss of performance.  Ford licensed one patent in a 2010 agreement.  The companies agreed not to litigate over other patents until January 1, 2014 to give time for a settlement.  Apparently, the companies couldn’t agree on a settlement.  Ford, seeking to preempt the lawsuit, filed a complaint in December in the Delaware Chancery Court seeking a court ruling that Paice couldn’t file a complaint under the terms of their 2010 agreement.  Paice has also sued Hyundai and Kia over the same patents.

A July 19, 2010, article in TechCrunch said, “Paice calls itself a ‘startup technology development’ firm. Because it doesn’t manufacture the technology it tests, patents and promotes, many have accused Paice of being ‘patent trolls.'”

An interesting article was published October 5, 2009 by HybridCars explaining the Toyota and Paice hybrid patent claims.  The lawsuit filed by Paice against Ford may have some aspects in common.

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After the Warranty What Will the C-Max Battery Cost to Replace?

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

2013 Ford C-Max Energi – The high-voltage battery is in the rear beneath the cargo area.

If you’re considering buying a C-Max, you might be concerned about the cost of replacing the lithium ion battery when it fails.  A recent article in Autobloggreen said it wasn’t “all that expensive.”  The C-Max warranty is 8 years and 100,000 miles for the hybrid components, which includes the lithium ion battery.  In California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington the hybrid components (which includes the battery) are covered for a longer 10 years and 150,000 miles warranty (if your state passes the California emissions warranty, your warranty should be extended too).  Although the warranty isn’t for 10-years and 150,000 miles in most states, Ford does state that the battery will last more than 10-years and 150,000 miles.  Ford’s Chief Electrified Powertrain Engineer Mazen Hammoud stated in a recent Twitter question and answer that, “The battery is designed to last for the life of the vehicle.”

According to GreenCarReports.com, hybrid battery packs are designed to last the life of the vehicle (about 15 years).  What if your battery doesn’t last?  The C-Max lithium ion battery for the 2013 Hybrid is listed on the official Ford parts web site.  The price is $3,510.38, part number 10B759.  This is a 1.4 kWh battery.  The battery for the C-Max Energi is the same part number and costs $8,546.87.  It is a 7.6 kWh battery.  Two factors may drop the cost to you.  First, you will need to drive the C-Max for more than 100,000 miles or 8 years, whichever is less before you bear the cost of replacement.  Once this warranty time period has passed, the cost of batteries should have dropped.  Second, Toyota gives Prius owners a “core credit” when they replace their batteries.  Toyota is currently charging $3,649 for a first- or second-generation battery, but the core credit is $1350 bringing the cost to $2,299.  Perhaps Ford will also give owners a core credit.  There is also a substantial labor cost for replacing the battery.  Last July, GreenCarReports described the experience of a Prius owner.  The total replacement cost with service was $4,400.  The owner walked out in shock at the price.  Later, the owner asked the service department for a better quote.  This time the total was $2,931.

According to Autobloggreen, “Consumer Reports has been impressed with the reliability of hybrid batteries and performance of the cars overall.”  Hopefully, C-Max owners are impressed with the reliability in 2020, eight years from now too.

This blog was published on 4 Dec 2012, updated on 13 Dec 2012 and revised and republished on September 28, 2013.

 

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Twitter Question and Answer with Ford Managers

The following question and answer session with Ford C-MAX Chief Engineer John Davis, Chief Electrified Powertrain Engineer Mazen Hammoud and C-MAX Brand Manager Patricia Piedrahita occurred on September 24, 2013.  The questions and answers are not listed in any particular order of importance and do not necessarily follow the session.

Does the high voltage cooling fan(s) continue to run if need be after the C-Max hybrid is shut off? No it only keeps the battery happy when you’re driving ^MH

I’ve used android app “torque” to see instant NUMERICAL MPG, which c-max doesn’t have, please put that in next firmware update please. Great suggestion! We will take it back to our gauge engineering team.

Can I upgrade my hybrid battery to an Energi battery? Unfortunately it would take more than just the battery. Best just to buy a C-Max Energi.

I’m not experience with an electric car & haven’t driven one. What’s the estimated monthly savings of this vehicle over gas? When in EV mode, cost is about 1/2 that of gas. If you use Value Charging it’s about a quarter. ^PP

Break-in took a long time on the C-max. Close to 5000 miles for my car. Are there efforts underway to shorten this time? To maximize fuel economy, we minimize the engine run time so the longer break-in time is inherent to great fuel economy ^MH

Does it make sense to use to use ECO cruise and grade assist together to improve mpg? It’s always a good idea to use ECO cruise whenever you can and you only use grade assist when you’re driving on grade. ^JD

Is the final drive ratio the same in Hybrid & Energi? No the final drive ratios are different. Hybrid is 2.57:1 and Energi is 2.91:1. ^JD

Are you surprised by the CMax community’s mixed response to the recent FE upgrade? Most people will experience an improvement but it will vary; it addresses high speed, climate control, short trips …to know the magnitude of the fuel economy improvement, it’s best to let it stabilize over 30 days.

In a commute of say 30 miles on the Energi, with 50% highway, should I switch EV off on highway and turn it back on in city? Yes – I would drive in the hybrid EV later mode on the highway and switch to EV now in the city. ^MH

Does braking harder generate more current? No – actually braking softer & smoother allows you to recapture more of the available energy. Plan your stops! ^MH

What is the anticipated overall battery life? The battery is designed to last for the life of the vehicle. ^MH

What’s your favorite feature on the C-Max? We just polled the room. ^PP and ^MH love the brake coach feature. ^PP’s even gotten 100% score! ^JD loves the one-handed fold-flat rear seat. All agree the car’s super fun to drive.

What is the proper use of the grade assist button on the C-max shifter and how does it affect fuel economy? With proper use of grade assist button, it allows you to maintain speed downhill & regenerate without driving the brake ^MH

Are you getting closer to making hybrids more comparable in price to a gas-fueled vehicle? C-MAX Hybrid is the lowest priced hybrid utility in the market at $25,995. ^PP With newest generation EVs, we’ve reduced development costs by 25% and continue to work on this everyday. ^PP

What is the battery technology that Ford uses for its electric vehicles? We chose lithium ion. It packs more power in less space.

The clock in my CMAX Microsoft Sync dashboard is always wrong never in “Sync.” Any plans to fix? I had the same problem and the MFT update totally fixed it. It’s available at the dealer now. ^MH I had the upgrade too, but SYNC clock still doesn’t work and the voice command is useless. Any way we might get iOS in the Car?

Can you explain, in layman’s terms, the main differences between the Hybrid SEL & the Energi? The features are largely the same, but Energi is a Plug-In hybrid that gives you up to 21 miles of pure EV.

My family lives 2000 miles away how many times would I need to recharge on a trip home? C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid lets you drive like an EV and for long trips can go 620 miles on 1 tank of gas and 1 charge. ^PP