Last December I noted the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi were in a YouTube video that was created by a videographer, Devin Graham, who has created many viral videos. The video, the Bike Parkour – Streets of San Francisco, has more than 4 million views today. A couple days ago, a new video was posted on YouTube, Upside: Anything is Possible. The video features Pashon Murray, co-founder of Detroit Dirt, which recycles waste food, zoo manure and other organic material into compost used to create community gardens in Detroit. The video was the idea of Ford’s PR agency, Team Detroit, but published on a new YouTube channel called Upside. The new short’s script and videography parallels the Cadillac ELR commercial: “Poolside” (the ELR is the rebadged Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid) with more than one million views on YouTube published February 7th, 2014. The Ford C-Max Energi video is stirring opinions at Green Car Reports, the Detroit Free Press, various other websites, and at Twitter with the hash tag #Upside. The C-Max Energi short has almost 400,000 views on YouTube – that’s about a hundred thousand more than when I started writing this blog a few hours ago. I like the “Anything is Possible” video and it’s definitely giving the Ford C-Max Energi some needed attention. Whenever I’ve talked to anyone about our C-Max Energi, they didn’t realize Ford made a plug-in vehicle (actually, three plug-in vehicles) or that Ford sold more plug-in vehicles last month in the U.S. than anyone else.
Last month, I wrote an article on deals for the C-Max Energi in California. Those were based on government incentives in California. How can the rest of us get a deal on a Ford C-Max Energi. My son’s interested in buying a Ford C-Max Energi. I’m searching for a deal for him. I decided to write a blog that might be helpful to others.
If you follow all of this advice, you can get an exceptional discount on the Ford C-Max Energi, $14,000 or more off MSRP and additional tax credits and incentives depending on your state and city.
I enjoy finding bargains. This is a good time to shop for a 2013 Energi. The 2014 and 2013 models are the same, but Ford and dealers need to clear out old inventory. Many 2013 models have been sitting on dealer lots for a long time. The weather in much of the country didn’t encourage car shopping lately either. It’s a great time for a car buyer.
There are two metrics that determine how desperate manufacturers and dealers are to sell their vehicles. One is how much inventory is available for sale. A 60 to 70 day supply (assembly line to sale) is considered normal. The other is days to turn, or the time it takes to sell a car from the day it is delivered to the dealer. Right now, it is 64.9 days according to TrueCar, which is quite long and up 23% from one year ago.
Here’s another metric, related to those above, to indicate regions where dealers should be most competitive. For some time, I’ve kept track of dealer inventory in different metropolitan regions. Using Edmunds.com, one can get the inventory of 2013 and 2014 vehicles within 50 miles of a zip code. The ratio of 2013 inventory to total inventory is the metric I’m using. In other words, what is the percent of unsold vehicles that are the 2013 model year. It’s also important that inventory is high. In other words, if there was only one 2013 Energi in the region that normally has 15, it wouldn’t be an area to get the best price – inventory is too low in the region. Regions with a large percent of unsold 2013’s will be our best markets to get a deal.
Some metro areas stand out for bargain shopping for the Ford C-Max Energi. Raleigh-Durham (zip code 27713) inventory is at 104% of the next highest month of inventory, on February 3rd, 69% of the inventory was 2013’s and on March 9th, 79% of the inventory was 2013’s. Washington D.C. (zip code 20011) inventory is at 74% of the highest month of inventory (August 2013), on February 3rd, 87% of the inventory was 2013’s and on March 9th, 76% of the inventory was 2013’s. Atlanta (zip code 30301) inventory is at 83% of the highest month of inventory (August 2013), on February 3rd, 94% of the inventory was 2013’s and on March 9th, 62% of the inventory was 2013’s. Austin (zip code 73301) inventory is at 73% of the highest month of inventory (November 2013), on February 3rd, 50% of the inventory was 2013’s and on March 9th, 50% of the inventory was 2013’s. Even though my son and I live in Utah, we’re considering a trip to one of these areas where the price on a new Energi is far below invoice.
Here’s another suggestion: examine the days to turn for the vehicles that you’re interested in buying. Use Ford.com to find dealers in the market of interest. Search each dealer’s website for 2013 Energis. If you find one of interest, display the window sticker. It’s normally available at the dealer’s website. Examine the top edge of the window sticker. You’ll see a section on the top edge that looks like the image below. This car was built on March 19th, 2013. The format is Year – Month – Date. It’s on the left side of the image.
Although the dealer didn’t receive the car on this date, it gives you a good idea of how long it’s been sitting on the lot. In this case, a very long time.
Finally, there may be incentives (tax credits, free parking, HOV lane access, etc.) in your state, region or city. These will be available where the vehicle is registered, not where it’s purchased. State and local incentives can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website. There is also a tax credit of $4007 from the Federal Government.
In addition, Ford has several incentives that may depend on the region where the Energi is purchased. In most cases, you can get a rebate of $3,000 plus 0% for up to 72 months on the loan this month. Finally, this can be combined with a competitive lease offer of $1000. If you lease a vehicle now (or its ended very recently), ask the dealer if your vehicle qualifies for the additional $1000 rebate from Ford.
Over the past couple weeks, there have been many news and rumor articles that will affect future and perhaps current owners of Ford vehicles with MyFord Touch and older Sync infotainment systems. Sync is the in-vehicle communications and entertainment system developed by Ford that uses the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system designed by Microsoft. Sync with MyFord Touch is the second-generation infotainment system used in more recent vehicles. The unreliability of MyFord Touch/Sync has been cited by J.D.Powers & Associates as the primary factor contributing to a decline in Ford’s reliability standing for new car purchasers. Ford has more than 10 million vehicles that include Sync. The current version of MyFord Touch is 3.6.2, which was released in August 2013. I’ve been using it since I purchased my own Ford C-Max Energi the same month. I haven’t had problems with MyFord Touch as others have reported.
On February 24th, Bloomberg reported that Ford will base the next-generation Sync software on Blackberrry’s QNX and no longer use Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive operating system. The QNX CAR application platform is running in over 20 million vehicles as of mid-2011. According to Bloomberg, the switch to QNX will improve flexibility and speed of Ford Sync while decreasing the cost. An article in Fortune reported, “Ask analysts what reputation QNX carries, and you’ll get phrases like ‘rock solid’ or ‘a solution for things that can’t crash’…” According to the Detroit News, a source with a knowledge of the plans to switch to QNX said, “the automaker could easily update the software of those vehicles already equipped with Sync to the BlackBerry software [QNX].”
According to Apple’s March 3rd press release, CarPlay, “the smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car”, will be included by Ford in vehicles. Apple said that many other makers, including Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan Peugeot, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota will include CarPlay in vehicles. For more information on CarPlay, see this description at the Apple Website or read the description below from the press release. CarPlay requires a Lightening-enabled iPhone running iOS 7 – the 5s, 5c and 5 are the only iPhones meeting both requirements. An article in N4bb.com states that CarPlay could become the biggest competitor to QNX CAR. It suggests that CarPlay runs on top of the QNX real-time operating system kernel. They quote Paul Leroux of QNX, “Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of QNX Software Systems’ platform for car infotainment systems, and many automakers and tier one automotive suppliers use our platform to implement smartphone/head-unit integration in their vehicles. We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay.”
Apple’s description of CarPlay: “Once iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri helps you easily access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails. When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call. CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display. CarPlay gives drivers access to all of their music, podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes Radio℠ with easy navigation through listening choices from the car’s built-in controls or simply by asking Siri to pull up what you’d like to hear. CarPlay also supports select third-party audio apps including Spotify and iHeartRadio, so you can listen to your favorite radio services or sports broadcast apps while driving.”
Now, adding to the confusion, CNET quotes Pin van der Jagt, a Ford managing director, “Sync 1 and 2 was done with Microsoft but we are not married with them. For us, it’s a supplier, so every time we keep evaluating is it the right partner.” He continued, “That [the switch to QNX] is a rumor. What we are in the process of, we are spec’ing out our requirements for the next generation: what we want to do, what features we want to add, what functionality. Then you go through a normal supply selection process. Those requirements for the next generation get sent out to everybody, to Microsoft, to Apple, to everybody, and they come back with offers… We go to evaluation and make a choice and that choice hasn’t been made yet.”
It’s not clear to me right now, just what it all means for current or future owners of the Ford C-Max. I would love to have CarPlay support. I use an iPhone, iPad and iMac. To have my car integrate closely with these Apple devices I use currently would be a big benefit, but not enough to sell the car and get another that supported CarPlay. It would be nice if Ford allow current owners of MyFord Touch to upgrade their infotainment system for free. The warranty on MyFord Touch is now for 5 years and unlimited miles. Even an upgrade for a fee may be worth it to me.
What’s your opinion?