Californians: With This Deal, You May Want to Buy a Ford C-Max Energi

C-Max Energi Cascade Scenic Drive

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

The Center for Sustainable Energy of the State of California has just $11,064,574 remaining in its rebate fund as of February 9th, 2014.  This amount will only last for a short while longer (see the CVRP Rebates by Month graph).  The Ford C-Max Energi qualifies for a $1500 cash rebate for those leasing or buying an Energi that is registered in California for 36 months after the lease or purchase.  The rebate application is located at their website.  California added funds last year to the program, but there isn’t any guarantee that it will be repeated this year.

Another substantial benefit for buyers of the Ford C-Max Energi in California is the Green Sticker issued by the California Air Resources Board.  The pass, good through January 1, 2019, is available to the first 40,000 applicants.  The California Air Resources Board lists qualifying vehicles besides the Energi.  They won’t last much longer.  As of December 2013, 28,739 had been issued.  About 2,500 are being issued each month currently.  More details are available on the Clean Air Vehicle Decal program.

In addition to California specific incentives, there is still a $4,007 federal tax credit.  If you buy the vehicle, you will need an income tax liability to offset the tax credit.  If you lease an Energi, Ford Credit (or another leasing company) will receive the credit and should pass it on to you through the lease (make sure they do).

There are other incentives that apply to cities throughout California.  These Tesla and  Department of Energy web pages also list incentives that apply to the Ford C-Max Energi.  If you live in the San Joaquin Valley, the Drive Clean program gives C-Max Energi owners an additional $2000 rebate.

Finally, Ford offers 0% for 60 months and a $3000 rebate on the purchase of a new 2013 C-Max Energi until March 31, 2014.  There is also a competitive lease offer of a $1000 rebate from Ford on a purchase or lease if you currently lease a competitive vehicle (or the lease ended within the last 30 days).

In summary, if you live in the San Joaquin Valley and have a lease on a competitive vehicle, you can get $4,007 from the Federal Government, $1500 from the State, $2000 from the San Joaquin Valley, $4000 from Ford and 0% for five years if you buy the vehicle.  In addition, you can get a Green Sticker for the vehicle that will increase its value.  You should also be able to bargain with the dealership and pay pretty close to invoice.  More than $11,000 below invoice on a new Ford C-Max Energi is possible.  Now that is a pretty sweet deal.

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Common Electricity Questions for the C-Max Energi

What’s the difference between a charger, charge station and EVSE?  The Ford C-Max Energi uses a J1772 compatible charge station, also called an EVSE, which means “electric vehicle service equipment.”  The electrical components involved in charging the Energi are located in the car and the charge station.  Although the electronics that convert the AC of the house to the DC used by the Energi is located in the vehicle, it is common to refer to the EVSE or charge station as the charger.

What’s the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 chargers?  The Level 2 chargers are faster.  There are two types of chargers for the C-Max Energi, AC Level 1 and 2 both with the same J1772 connector.  A Level 1 charger is supplied with the C-Max Energi.  A Level 2 charger can be purchased and installed in your home.  Level 2 chargers are often available in public locations for free.  A Level 2 charger will charge about three times faster for a C-Max Energi.  According to various posts, the Level 2 chargers are somewhat more efficient, about 80% compared to 72% for the Ford Level 1 charger[The SAE International charging configurations and ratings terminology sheet is here.]

I’ve tried faster J1772 Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, but the C-Max Energi doesn’t charge any faster.  Why?  Because charging equipment is inside and outside of the C-Max Energi.  I haven’t been able to find specifications for the on-board charging regulator for the C-Max, but based on charging times of 7 hours at 120V and 2.5 hours at 240V, it appears as though the Energi is limited to 1.4 kW for Level 1 and 3.3 kW for Level 2 chargers.  It won’t speed charging times for a Level 1 or Level 2 charger with faster kW specifications.  Level 1 AC chargers use the standard AC 120V receptacle and can operate at 1.4 kW drawing up to 12 amps of current and 1.9 kW drawing up to 16 amps.  Level 2 AC chargers use standard AC 240 V split phase and can operate at 3.3 kW, 7.2 kW and 19.2 kW drawing up to 80 amps for the 19.2 kW 2009 specification.

How much electricity is required to charge a C-Max Energi? About 8 kWh for a full charge with the Ford 120V Level 1 charge station supplied with the C-Max Energi.  This is based on measured full charges with our Energi using a Kill-A-Watt meter.

How efficient is the Ford 120V Level 1 charge station?  72%.  Tom in San Diego posted in the Fordcmaxenergiforum results of testing the efficiency of the Ford 120 Volt charge station that comes with the Energi.  It is only 72% efficient (see the graph below).

Ford 120V Charge Station Efficiency

Ford 120V Charge Station Efficiency

How much does this electricity cost?  Electricity costs vary widely.  There could be a discounted price for charging at night.  At my home (which is typical), the cost is 12 cents per kWh.  The cost to fully charge the battery would be about one dollar.

Are there public charging locations?  What do they cost?  There are more than 10,000 public charging locations in the U.S.  About 85 percent of the public chargers are free.  There are different ways to find charger locations.  (As of August 2013, free chargers are less common.  In Utah, Walgreens has started charging $2.50 per hour, which would make the electricity more expensive than refueling with gasoline and less convenient.)

How much does it cost to drive with electricity rather than gasoline?  It depends on your cost for electricity at home and how often you use free public chargers.  Using 12 cents per kWh you can drive about 24 miles in the city for one dollar.  Assuming you drive 20 city miles each day on electricity and you pay 12 cents per kWh, your annual cost for electricity will be about $410.  According to the EPA, the C-Max Energi has ratings of 108 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway, and 100 MPGe combined.  The EPA uses 33.7 kWh per gallon-equivalent to calculate the MPGe.  The corresponding miles per kWh would be 3.20 city, 2.73 highway, and 2.97 miles/kWh combined.  The cost of a kWh is typically 12 cents.  Assuming 72 percent efficiency when charging, for one dollar a C-Max Energi could be driven 19.2 miles city, 16.4 miles highway, and 17.8 miles combined.  [The calculation is ((108/33.7)/.12)*.72 for the city.]  As with gasoline, how you drive will affect your cost.  The EPA states the 2012 Nissan Leaf gets miles per kWh of 3.15 city, 2.73 highway, and 2.94 combined.  My personal experience with a Nissan Leaf is better.  My average is 4.1 miles per kWh after driving more than 8,000 miles in a Nissan Leaf.

Ford C-Max Energi Charge Port

Ford C-Max Energi Charge Port with Nissan Leaf J1772 Charger

What is the range of the C-Max Energi when driving with electric energy only?  When C-Max Energi is put in EV Now mode, it uses only electric energy (EV).  According to the EPA, the electric energy range for the Energi is 21 miles.  According to a Forum post by Tom in San Diego, 21 miles is consistent with his experience (see the graph below).  The distance you drive with electric energy will be dependent on how and where you drive.

Ford C-Max Energi EV Range

Ford C-Max Energi EV Range

Do I need to use the charger that comes with the C-Max Energi to charge it?  No.  Any 120V AC Level 1 or 240V AC Level 2 charger with the J1772 connector will charge the C-Max Energi.  The Tesla and Nissan fast chargers are not compatible with the J1772 standard or the C-Max Energi.

How long does it take to charge the C-Max Energi?  According to Ford, it takes 7 hours with the 120V AC Level 1 trickle charger that is supplied with the C-Max and 2.5 hours with a 240V AC Level 2 charger.  Based on full charges with our Energi, it takes 6 hours with the 120V AC Level 1 charger.  Based on full charges with our Energi, it takes just over 2 hours with a 240V AC Level 2 charger.  These times assume the battery is fully discharged.  It probably isn’t.

Are there any special requirements for a charger?  The 120V AC outlet that you plug your Level 1 trickle charger into should be on a dedicated 15-20 amp circuit.

Ford Level 2 J1772 Charger

Ford Level 2 J1772 Charger

 

What does it cost to upgrade to a Level 2 charger in my garage?  The cost depends on the charger you select and the cost of installation.  Installation costs vary from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on your home.  Although any J1772 charge station will charge the current C-Max Energi at its fastest possible rate, it may make sense to install a 30 amp charger to support future vehicles.  The increased cost is not that significant.  It is also important to make sure that the cord is sufficiently long to satisfy current and future vehicles.  There are a few good choices.  ClipperCreek now has the HCS-40.  This 30 amp EVSE with a 25 ft cord sells for $590.    Bosch has the 30 amp PowerMax EVSE with an 18 ft cord priced at $593.  Another good alternative is the Schneider Electric EV Link 30 amp at Home Depot for $599 with an 18 ft cord.  If you decide to install a 240V Level 2 charger, it makes sense to have an electrician install a 240V outlet in the garage on a dedicated line.  That makes it possible to move the charger to another location.  The tax credit for installing a charge station expired on December 31, 2013.

Where is the 120 volt charger stored in the C-Max Energi?

C-Max Energi Charge Port Storage

C-Max Energi Charge Port Storage is Behind Driver’s Seat

There is a compartment in the floor behind the driver’s seat for storing the charger.

When I’m done charging, can I just pull the charger from the 120V outlet?  No. Do not pull the charger’s wall plug from the outlet while the vehicle is charging. This can damage the cord or outlet.  Disconnect the J1772 connector from the C-Max Energi first.

Are there concerns about the high voltage of the C-Max if I’m involved in an accident?  Yes.  A short blog was published on this, “Emergency Response for The Ford C-Max.”  The C-Max High Voltage disconnect is located behind the rear passenger side seat.

C-Max High Voltage Disconnect

C-Max High Voltage Disconnect is Located Behind the Rear Passenger Side Seat

Are there two batteries for the Ford C-Max Energi, for “hybrid” and “plug-in” operation?  No.  However, from the user perspective there appears to be two.  The software for the drivetrain divides the battery into a 1.1 kWh “hybrid” battery and a 6.5 kWh “plug-in” battery according to an article in Automotive Engineering Online.  As far as I can tell, Ford never charges the battery to 100% or discharges it to 0% to prolong battery life.  A full charge of the Energi adds about 5.5 kWh of charge to the battery and requires about 8 kWh from the wall (electric meter).  When the potential energy is high (at the top of a hill, canyon or mountain) and a long descent is encountered, after the “hybrid” battery is fully charged the “plug-in” battery will start charging.  As a test, I drove up American Fork Canyon until the “hybrid” and “plug-in” batteries were completely discharged and the ICE (internal combustion engine) started.  I then turned around and descended to the starting point.  The hybrid battery was fully charged and the “plug-in” battery had a 30% charge after returning to the start.

This blog was first published December 28, 2012.  It was updated January 5th, 16th, 19th, March 2nd, August 27th, September 11th, 2013 and January 20th, 2014.

 

 

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Just Two Weeks Left to Buy A Charger and Get Federal 30% Tax Credit

There is a tax credit for installing a charger that will expire on December 31st, 2013.  This tax credit is applicable for chargers for the C-Max Energi but also other plug-in vehicles, such as the Chevrolet VoltNissan Leaf, and Prius Plug-in Hybrid.  As far as I can tell, the least expensive J1772 Level 2 EVSE is the Bosch Power Max 16A/12′ Cord available through the end of the year with the discount code, HOLIDAY2, for $413 plus shipping and sales tax.  I don’t have any financial relationship with Bosch other than I bought a Bosch charger earlier this year and have been please with it thus far.  It’s what I recommend today.

Many questions about charging the C-Max Energi are answered in the blog, “Common Electricity Questions for the C-Max Energi.”

The charger tax credit is in Internal Revenue Code Section 30C.  This credit expired on December 31st, 2011 formerly.  It is extended through December 31st, 2013 in the Fiscal Cliff Bill on page 63, lines 14 through 21.  The tax credit is summarized at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center as the “Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit”.

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