The Latest on The C-Max MPG Story

USA Today reported tonight that the EPA is finally preparing to test a Ford C-Max in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The paper said the EPA review is of hybrids that are capable of highway speeds on electric power alone.  They quoted Chris Grundler, EPA’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality as saying, “This is a different type of hybrid, and we need to understand it.”

Earlier this week, Wayne Gerdes of CleanMPG wrote an article on his comparison of the Ford C-Max Hybrid and the Toyota Prius V, entitled “Ford’s 47 mpg City/Highway/Combined Hybrid Ratings Ring Hollow”.   There are comments on this article in the PriusChat forum too.  I blogged on these CleanMPG tests and more last month in “The C-Max MPG Saga Continues.”  Today Toyota issued a press release with the following quote: “Recently, editors of Cleanmpg.com tested the Ford C-MAX and the Prius v on a 365-mile-highway route at a steady cruise-control moderated speed. In this evaluation, the Prius v averaged 40.8 mpg and actually bested its EPA highway rating by 1.9 percent. On the same roads and using the same testing criteria, Cleanmpg.com editors stated that the Ford C-MAX averaged 35.5 mpg, which is short of its stated EPA rating by 24.4 percent.”

The test implemented by CleanMPG is more than a month old.  What’s interesting is now Toyota is involved in the dispute over the C-Max and the MPG controversy.  I think it most likely means that the C-Max is viewed by Toyota as possibly hurting their Prius sales in the U.S. rather than just growing the hybrid marketshare of the vehicle market overall.  According to Mr. Gerdes, “To give you an example of how much effort has been expended on ‘Beating the Prius’, a search of Ford’s media site using the term ‘Prius’ reveals 4,380 results as of this afternoon [February 25, 2013].  That seems excessive given Toyota’s media site shows 0 hits for the term C-MAX and just 13 when inquiring on the Fusion.”  As of today, Toyota is now mentioning the C-Max.

The Detroit News reported today that San Diego based Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd and Redlands based McCuneWright, two California law firms, are consolidating lawsuits against Ford alleging “false and misleading” marketing for the C-Max.  The paper quoted a partner at McCuneWright, Rich McCune as stating, “There’s a lot of really unhappy people…We’ve received hundreds of calls from the few newspaper stories that have been around.”  I couldn’t find the new consolidated lawsuit at either firm’s website, but the original complaint filed by McCuneWright at their web site still states that the C-Max is sold by Hyundai rather than Ford as I reported in December.  Although it wasn’t reported by the Detroit News, there are other law firms interested in filing complaints against Ford.  Morgan & Morgan with offices in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee has been soliciting disgruntled C-Max and Fusion Hybrid owners and lesees.  Mehri & Skalet PLLC in Washington DC has also been soliciting owners.

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Consumer Reports: C-Max Hybrid Technology Impressive, Ford Ranked Low (23rd)

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

Consumer Reports said 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid technology is “impressive”

Consumer Reports said, “Ford’s latest hybrids, the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max, are impressive” in the report, “Who makes the best cars.”  Because the C-Max Hybrid and Energi are new models, they didn’t affect the ranking.  Consumer Reports ranked Ford 23rd, quite low, in a brand “report card” (Lexus, Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, Acura, Honda, Scion, Audi, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, BMW, Nissan, Cadillac, Hyundai, Volkswagen, GMC, Chevrolet, Volvo, Mini, Buick, and Chrysler were ranked higher, in that order).

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Toyota Prius and Honda CR-V Are Top Competitive Trade-in Vehicles for C-Max

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi

More than 60% of sales for Ford C-Max are sold to customers loyal to another brand.

More than 60 percent of the C-Max vehicles are sold to customers previously loyal to another brand, called “conquest buyers”.  The Toyota Prius and Honda CR-V hold the top competitive trade-in spots.  Ford said one-third of all C-Max sales are to customers in the midwest (Great Lakes and Central Regions).  It was previously reported that one fourth of C-Max sales were in California.

The success of C-Max luring customers away from other brands is supported by Ford’s unique La Linea ads according to Ford.  Nielsen data from the La Linea 2012 ad campaign for the C-Max “show the campaign’s message communication, brand communication and purchase consideration are significantly higher than the norm.”  C.J. O’Donnell, marketing and strategy manager for Ford Electrified Vehicles, said, “…this is just a start; we intend to take a much larger share of the hybrid market.”  Although Ford said there would be new La Linea ads, the C-MaxChat blog on YouTube ads appears to cover all ads posted on YouTube for now.  The hybrid games ads for the internet have been viewed almost 417,000 times from the Ford website through December 31, 2012.  According to Ford, this was double their goal and far more than the views on YouTube that are tracked by C-MaxChat.  A Ford press release is available for those interested in more detail on the marketing campaign.

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