By on June 9, 2011

When Ford showed the world its new crop of compact-based cars and MPVs at January’s Detroit Auto Show, it announced that its C-Max compact MPV would be coming to the US in 7-passenger Grand C-Max form. But in a strangely prophetic turn of events (see video above), the 7-passenger model refused to show up. Now, according to Ford, the 7-passenger Grand C-Max won’t be coming to the US… instead the 5-passenger version will be sold as a dedicated hybrid model with a plug-in option. Why? Because it’s big in Europe… and because “One Ford.” Hit the jump for Ford’s explanation, and then wonder along with us: seriously, why not sell the 7-seat version too?

According to Ford’s presser:

The new Ford C-MAX five-passenger vehicle, which is the base for the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, is leaving European dealer lots at twice the rate of last year’s model. More than 100,000 of these new vehicles have been sold in Europe since its launch in late 2010, and Ford is already finding new ways to produce more European C-MAX models than originally expected at its Valencia, Spain, plant.

“European customers are snapping up our C-MAX five-passenger models, telling us they love the vehicle’s sporty appearance, driving quality, interior comfort and clever use of space,” Farley said. “We plan to be aggressive in delivering products like this that people really want and make smart decisions supporting our One Ford plan.”

Ford’s plan to invest in even more capacity for its five-passenger C-MAX electrified models for North America replaces an earlier plan of introducing the gasoline-engine-powered seven-passenger C-MAX multi-activity vehicle.

This also marks the first time North American customers will have the choice of a dedicated body style for a range of Ford electrified vehicles.

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48 Comments on “Ford Cancels 7-Passenger C-Max For US, Now Coming As Hybrid/Plug-In Only...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I bet Mazda is pleased to hear this.

    Any idea about the projected release date?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Almost as happy as when GM cancelled the US launch of the Chevy Orlando.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Philosophil:

      Explain to me exactly..
      Why Mazda is happy to hear about this?

      No one cross shops the Mazda5..
      On top of their smaller dealer base..

      People are still buying Expeditions, Exploders and F-150 crews for their kids instead of vehicles of the Mazda5 size.

      Heck,
      Id bet MONEY people go to Mazda to buy the CX7/9 but never even look at the Mazda5.

      They did that to the Mazda6hatch/wagon.. when it was around and bought the Escape for Mazda / CX7/9 instead. Which is why the Hatch/wagon design option never came to the U.S

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        I think I would smile if I was in a niche market and one of my potential competitors backed out. Further, I’m in Canada, and the market for small vehicles is a little better here (we still have the Kia Rondo, and the Chevrolet Orlando is going to be released here as well).

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        That and the US 6 is no longer the global 6 that still offers those bodystyles.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    The C-Max profile looks pretty good from that video’s perspective. It doesn’t look too awkwardly tall like a Fit. I also like the front end better than the Focus. Less big mouth bass.

    I guess the Mazda5 will continue to go uncontested. It’s actually probably worse for it. The Grand C-Max would have added more visibility to the niche.

    All would be forgiven if Ford brought over the wagon variant.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Yeah, I might actually find one of those quite appealing for my purposes (the hybrid as a small commuter if it’s in the right price point).

  • avatar
    ott

    Yet another bonehead move from an otherwise smartly run company. First they discontinue the Ranger, and now this? What’s happening, Ford? Maybe Mazda bribed someone?

  • avatar

    My recent Mazda5 review suddenly seems a bit silly…

    Very sorry to hear the 7-seater won’t make it, as it might have at least nudged Mazda to offer the seventh seat here. I’m guessing Ford caved to the same market research results that led GM to nix the Orlando for U.S. sale.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    all that fanfare and marketing hype about the c-max, and recent blowhorning about selling 50% more small cars amounts to garbage.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      In all honesty the gasoline C-Max probably wouldn’t have been a huge seller. Maybe 50k a year tops, and while that’s some useful volume, I also suspect Ford couldn’t make a good business case at those numbers (especially since, if I remember correctly, the gas model would have been imported from Europe).

      I’m really disappointed that the gasoline C-Max isn’t coming here as I personally find it an intriguing car, but from a business standpoint the Focus, Fiesta, and EV/hybrid C-Maxes should be sufficient to boost Ford’s small-car numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        colin42

        So if the 7 seater was to be imported from Europe where would the 5 seater come from? They are all on the C1 platform so could have been made in Michigan like the Focus for North America

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        The EV/hybrids are going to be made in the US but I remember reading that the 7-seater was just going to be imported from Spain. I don’t remember where I read that, though, so I could be wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @sv:
        Maybe they’re betting on a falling dollar?

        Maybe exchange rate will exceed the hybrid premium, so they just decided to sell the cars made in the US in the US?

        The exchange rate would also make selling the hybrids in europe more profitable…

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Ford probably figured it didn’t need another 7 passenger people hauler. Stubbornly they will update the Flex, I don’t get it. I would have been in the market for it in 2-3 years to replace our Freestyle. Now I just don’t know, the Explorer is out of my price range and my wife won’t even look at the Flex.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      +1.

      My wife and I were very interested in the C-Max minivan. In 2-3 years, we’ll have to look outside of Ford for to replace our Monterey. As cool as I think the Flex is, my wife will be driving it, and she hates the styling.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Ugh, my wife was REALLY looking forward to the 7-seater C-Max as her next car. By then, we’d have 2 kids and all the stuff that they come with to haul around. She refuses to look at the new Mazda5, considering her Mazda3 5-door’s fuel economy is abysmal. I can’t even convince her to check it out when the Sky engine gets dropped in.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Subaru and other CUV makers should be happy that Ford is restricting their USA vehicle selection. Then again the C-max hybrid probably won’t offer AWD option, possibly limiting sales in NW/NE USA.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Small MPVs haven’t sold well in the US in the past. The Mazda5 sells slowly, Kia killed the Rondo because of slow sales, and the old Mazda MPV, which was really just a slightly smaller minivan, never sold in the numbers of the larger competitors. Americans by and large aren’t small people, and to give up a lot of space you have to either offer a dramatically lower price or much higher fuel economy, most MPVs only offer slight improvements in both areas.

    Ford could also be looking at how crowded the lineup is becoming. With the Grand C-Max below and the Explorer above, the Flex would be in a mighty tight niche. I expect the next Flex to move to the upcoming EUCD2 platform, downsize a bit to differentiate from the Explorer, add some curves to improve its acceptability by women, and add the 2.0 EcoBoost as an engine option for fuel economy close to what the Grand C-Max would have had, but with a lot more space.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      Bingo… this thing would have sold quite tepidly.
      They should just put some sliders on the flex and be done with it.
      To be honest I find the Mazda 5 nice, but in reality just too small. I couldn’t fit comfortably in any seat, just give me a Grand Caravan…

    • 0 avatar
      Dragophire

      I hope you are wrong about the FLEX going smaller. Both me and my wife love the current one and next year my cx9 will be paid for. Was hoping to get a refreshed Flex with more power. If they do make it smaller they will lose me as a future customer.

  • avatar
    blarfmarfle

    I was going to BUY one of these when they went on sale later this year! We own a Mazda5 to haul around our 3 kids, and we love the 2+2+2 packaging, small size and sliding doors. I figured the new 7 seat C-Max would have Ford’s better refinement, electronics and engines. The worst part about the Mazda5 is how noisy it is on the road, and I guessed the C-Max would be quieter. We use the extra rear seat for times when one of the kid’s friends rides along.

    Guess I won’t be buying a new Ford this fall. :-(

  • avatar
    jeoff

    What is a C-Max? A Prius fighter or Mazda5 fighter? Which is more important? Ford is defining a new product for the US, the C-Max. Now there is no confusion about what it is, a Prius competitor that has been successful in Europe. A very good move.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      I agree. Ford has done the market research and knows the Mazda 5 is a loser in a niche that American’s don’t love. So instead go after a very profitable and high volume vehicle in N/A like the Prius. Seems like a smart move to me.

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    I was eyeing this as a future supplement to our Flex… It was smart looking and nicely sized based on the Ford website… where it no longer appears. :-(

    My wife will be thrilled… She though it was too “minivan”. This from a woman that drives a PT Cruiser :-)

  • avatar
    dwford

    Maybe this clears the way for the Flex to turn into a real minivan in a couple of years.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    This looks like a smart move to me. The last two seating positions in that class of vehicle are not useful for full sized adults, and Ford already has a number of seven passenger vehicles it would compete with.

    Bringing a hybrid C-max into the states, on the other hand, would mean a niche Ford could have all to itself for a while. Other than the aged Escape hybrid, what is is there which has wagon/van type versatility with a hybrid power train? I guess the only answer at the moment in the Highlander hybrid, but that is more SUV than van/wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Agree, particularly if the rear legroom is much improved due to not having to cater to 3rd-row passengers. At least 40″ of legroom in each of 2 rows please!!

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Meh…no loss. Why in the world does Ford need THREE seven seat vehicles on sale at the same time appealing to the same group of people?

    They already have the Flex and Explorer fighting for the few customers that are interested in them.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    If the line in Chicago loses units because the Grand C takes sales from the Flex, and, assuming the Grand C would have been produced domestically, if the lines in the Focus plants are full building Focii and regular C-Max vehicles, then overall, this is not a good thing.

    If the lines start to get less full after Focus has been in production for a few years, maybe then the Grand C will show up.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Well that’s pretty stupid. So instead of a practical 7 passenger mini MPV for budget/efficiency-minded families, the U.S. gets a pointless/worthless 5-seat hybrid. Don’t the Escape forthcoming electric Focus already fill that void rather well?

    This is a major blunder. And the argument that mini-minivans don’t sell isn’t a good one. With high fuel prices and the economy still in the toilet, there’s nothing wrong with the Grand C-Max that some aggressive marketing can’t fix. They said hatchbacks were salesproof too, but finally changing…

    And I’m about fed up with all the Ford can do no wrong hype in the automotive press. As a Mustang owner, I can vouch for the fact that Ford’s gee-whiz infotainment systems are, uh, flawed. And the build quality/fit and finish is substandard…defects in the paint, poor panel alignment, multiple rattles…its easily the worst put together of the 5 vehicles I’ve owned. And the half-baked PowerShift in the Fiesta/Focus and the defective Getrag in the Mustang is simply unacceptable. The magazines may be smitten, but Ford’s giving me little reason to return to them for my next purchase – and I am (was?) a fanboy.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    But what disappoints me is that with $5 or worse a gallon gas looming (no, maybe not next year, or the year after….), the Mazda5-size vehicles are right sized. I’m a big guy, but while I love the comfort of the Flex, Explorer etc, the reality of 18 mpg just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    The old MPV and Nissan Quest were perfectly sized, but inefficient….modern technologies can easily solve that….

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Ugh. When is a 7 seater that gets good mileage going to be available? Where’s the 7 seat Prius already? I just bought a 4 year old Freestyle expecting used C-max seven seaters to hit the used market three years from now when it is time to get something new. We are normal sized humans. We don’t need a 5000 lb vehicle to seat 2 adults and 3-5 small children. The only way to get good city mpg is a light car and/or a hybrid. Plenty of ways to get good highway mpg.

  • avatar
    colin42

    The commentators who have said Ford have enough 7 seat cars & these right size minivan are no good because adults in the 3rd row feel like coach rather than 1st class are missing the point.

    Yes Ford had the flex & explorer but both achieve mid 20′ mpg at best and cost close to $40K to get reasonable equipment levels. The C-Max is the ideal car for families i.e. 2 kids who need the extra seats when cousins, kid’s friends, parent etc visit but can still achieve >30mpg and cost <$25K

    The ironic thing is the only car that seats 7 and gets better than 30 mpg is the Kia Sorento (2.4 GDI)

  • avatar
    colin42

    On reflection I’m ok with this as long as we get the next generation S-Max!!

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    Personally I would have loved to see the gasoline, hybrid, and PHEV drivetrains all applied to the 7-passenger (aka Grand C-Max) bodystyle. A hybrid version of the Grand C-Max would have fit my needs perfectly…but I recognize that I am not a typical American new-car buyer. Unlike the case with hatchbacks, there’s no sign that MPVs are poised for market acceptance in this country.

    As soon as Ford announced that the PHEV version would be 5-passenger, I wondered how the company would deal with the marketing and production complexities of having two distinctly different vehicles both being sold as the C-Max. Ford was heading toward very thin market segmentation with two C-Max’s, the Focus hatch, the new Escape, the Fiesta hatch, and the B-Max (rumored to be heading to the U.S.).

    Part of the problem is now solved: C-Max is now the high-mileage, high-tech, tall-boy member of the Focus family. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing happen with the B-Max, giving Ford its very own hybrid sub-brand.

  • avatar
    mike978

    What I would like to know is how much larger (if any) is a C-Max compared to a 5 door Focus. I went on the Ford UK site but that has limited dimension information. One of the criticisms of the new Focus is that it is a little tight in the back. I would hope the C-Max is a little taller, wider and has more shoulder and legroom, that would then make it more viable for my family of 5.

    Anyone know?

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Mike978:

      Mazda5 is calling you.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I’d be all over the Mazda 5 if Mazda would acknowledge that it can tow a 4’x8′ utility trailer… But, as near as I can tell, the US version of the owner’s manual seems to discourage one from towing with it.

        I could just tow with it anyway (some people do), but I’m really tired of fighting with vendors about the capabilities of their product, so I’ll just keep my money.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        @Luke42

        1. Buy Mazda5
        2. Go to JC Whitney website.
        3. Go to hitches/trailering.
        4. Order Class 1 hitch. ~$150.
        5. Trailer away (as long as it’s under 1000lbs.)

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Mazda3er:
        I’m well aware that I *can* do that. I’m just tired of fighting with vendors about what their stuff can and can’t do, so I’ll vote with my dollars. It’s a carryover from my day-job, I guess.

        I’m well aware that the Mazda5 is rated to tow 3300lbs in the UK, where the towing speed limit is 50mph and trailers are much more likely to have brakes. The vehicle is certainly capable of it, but I don’t have the energy to try to convince anyone of that. In the end, I’ll probably just follow Mazda’s advice on towing, and go buy a Subaru.

  • avatar
    stillaguamish

    This is a big disappointment to me. I need to replace my wife’s ’97 CRV that has 190,000 miles on it. But there are simply no cars out there that we find appealing. (Yes, Hondas last a long time, but do you really want them to?) I was looking foward to checking out the (Grand) C-Max.

    We have a baby on they way, so we would appreciate the easy access of a van-type vehicle. We like the utility of an SUV, but would like to get 30 mpg on the highway. (Well, we’d like to 35 on the highway and 30 in the city, but apparently that’s too fantastical to even imagine). Since the government has stopped repairing the roads in our city, I would like something that provides a comfortable ride over cobblestone-like pavement. My wife wants something with “pickup.”

    Is the rest of the country really only interested in sedans, SUVs, and, occasionally, a hatchback? Am I really the only consumer willing to pay for economy and driveability and utility? Why do all the car companies want to make the same types of cars?

    I’m going to be forced to buy another CRV, even though I hate the one we have, or a Subaru or something like that. Or maybe we’ll just buy something used, like a Volvo, and wait until someone brings something to market that we’d actually enjoy owning.

    • 0 avatar
      mbe3204m

      sorry still, what do u mean by, “Hondas last a long time but do you really want them to”? I’ll be honest, I was done with the Accord after my third (96, 2003, 2006), and gravitated toward German cars for a while (two E-classes which I absolutely loved). Just curious to know if you were referring to the relatively bland drive of especially recent Hondas, or something else?

  • avatar
    mbe3204m

    I think both philosphil and acc are correct: Mazda would be happy to hear this news. I drove the Mazda5 and it was nice, but even the 2012 edition simply does not offer enough higher-tier options. I don’t need nav in-dash offered (though it would be nice), but no power seats seemed odd, even in the highest trim level. The C-Max 7-seater with sliding doors would have addressed that and forced Mazda to be a bit more generous on the options.

    However, even after I drove the ’12 Mazda5 and was excited about a peppy, well-handling small minivan, my wife and I discussed and were able to splurge on a CPO 2009 Odyssey EX-L. It’s not as nimble of course, and it’s a bit more space than we need. But with an infant on the way and one toddler already, and those car seats taking up an insane amount of space these days, we’re kind of glad we have plenty of room for two kids in the back, a rear seat for anyone else, and enough space for a large stroller. SO yeah, people are still gravitating toward the larger vehicles with which to transport their kids in certain cases, especially if you’re not going too far on a day to day basis.

    Wrote a few posts about the C-Max vs. Mazda5 and what happened to it here, just hadn’t updated it until I did a search today:

    http://drivingenthusiast.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-happened-to-c-max.html


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