By on May 3, 2013

 

Ford is “seeking to challenge Toyota Motor Corp.’s dominance in gasoline-electric vehicles,” says Bloomberg.

According to the report, Ford “has rolled out the new C-Max hybrids and electric versions of its redesigned Fusion sedan in the past year to take on Toyota, which has dominated with its Prius hybrids since the early 2000s.” Some say, Ford already subjugated Toyota.

Ford left Toyota in the dust, says Seekingalpha, which reports that in April, Ford delivered “35,034 Fusion hybrids compared to the 3,257 Camry and 19,889 Prius hybrids Toyota moved. “ That of course is complete baloney.

U.S. Hybrid sales for April 2013
Mfr Model April YTD Share
Ford Fusion Hybrid 3,625 13,891 8.47%
Ford C-Max Hybrid 3,197 11,708 7.47%
Lincoln MKZ 884 1,607 2.07%
Total Ford 7,706 27,206 18.01%
Lexus ES Hybrid 1,237 5,276 2.89%
Lexus CT200h 1,171 4,416 2.74%
Lexus RX 400 / 450 h 688 3,113 1.61%
Lexus GS 450h 34 162 0.08%
Lexus LS 600h 15 63 0.04%
Lexus HS 250h 0 2 0.00%
Toyota Prius Liftback 12,432 47,413 29.04%
Toyota Prius C 3,486 13,351 8.14%
Toyota Prius V 3,372 11,897 7.88%
Toyota Camry Hybrid 3,257 15,691 7.61%
Toyota Avalon Hybrid 1,423 5,440 3.32%
Toyota Highlander Hybrid 495 1,865 1.16%
Total Toyota   27,610 108,689 64.51%

Nobody keeps better track of hybrid sales than our sister publication Hybridcars, which runs a monthly report. According to Hybridcar’s tally, Ford is far away from taking on Toyota. However, sales of Ford’s Fusion hybrid are up, whereas Toyota’s hybrid sales are mostly down.

Toyota’s Americas chief Jim Lentz blamed falling U.S. gasoline prices and said last month that Toyota may not reach its U.S. sales target for Prius hybrids of about 250,000 this year.

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44 Comments on “Ford Wants To Out-Hybrid Toyota. It Will Be Tough Slogging...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    I find the take rate for the hybrid option to be interesting:

    Fusion 13.6%
    MKZ 22.0%

    Camry 10.3%
    Avalon 22.5%
    Highlander 5.1%

    Lexus ES 24.2%
    GS 2.8%
    LS 2.1%
    RX 9.8%

    The Buick BAS take rates are fairly high, too, but BAS is the base car in some models, so I think it should be considered separately. And the Malibu take rate is 7%, which is no surprise, given the high cost of the eAssist option on the Malibu and the small improvement in fuel economy you get for that money.

    If I remember the demographics correctly, Prius purchasers are fairly well off. The ES, Avalon and MKZ hybrid option take rates suggest that perhaps hybrid intenders can be persuaded to go upmarket if the right car is available. In fact, I wonder if the ES, Avalon and MKZ hybrid options are generally helping to sell that car, as opposed to being options that ES, Avalon and MKZ intenders add on (or just accept) after deciding on that car. The slightly higher take rate on the Fusion hybrid over the Camy also suggests this, as my impression of the Fusion hybrid is that it’s nicely equipped.

    Of course, this doesn’t explain the low sales of the Volt. And it looks like hybridizing a truck is not a good use of investment money, although I’d really like to see how a 4-cylinder hybrid Highlander would sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I haven’t looked at the MKZ for 13 but on the 12 the Hybrid was “free” in that it shared the same base price as those equipped with the V6. So if that is still true it having a higher take rate doesn’t surprise me.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        For 2013 it’s still “free” — but the base MKZ engine is an EcoBoost 4. The V6 is a $1200 price premium over either of them. So even more incentive.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “And it looks like hybridizing a truck is not a good use of investment money”

      I would think that hybridizing a truck would be a great use of investment money, just that nobody has done it right yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Well GM has been selling theirs for awhile, and Ford and Toyota have been jointly working on a system since for the F150 and Tundra. Which means we just might see it in the 2015 F150. The 2015 F150 is going to be aluminum so it would be a good fit with a Hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I would beg to differ that it “wasn’t done right” yet. The 2 mode GM hybrid trucks go (going from memory here) from 13s to 20. I don’t know if the EPA estimates on the trucks is true to real life, but on paper that is a significant increase. Based on that you would think that the take rate would be much higher. But people make purchases based on a lot more than rational thinking, so maybe there’s an association with buying a hybrid that does not sit well with truck buyers. Or, maybe it just cost too much.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Maybe they go from the 13s to 20 but it was a very expensive option, on the order of $13K. GM never built and priced this for fleet operators, who would be the ones to see the value in it.

          Individual consumers who want to save monmey can do it more effectively by downsizing. Why spend $55K for a hybrid Tahoe when you can get improved fuel economy with practically no loss of utility by downsizing to a $36K Traverse?

          Sales numbers alone tell us it “wasn’t done right.”

          If the Toyota/Ford solution is a much more cost-effective, we may yet see a success.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m no Prius-lover, but at least you can come close to its EPA estimated combined fuel economy, something that’s proven extremely difficult in Ford’s latest hybrids.

    For example, Autoblog recently averaged just 35.6 mpg in a C-Max hybrid, while an aggregate of owners on fuelly.com report 38.8, well below the 47 combined number.

    If Ford wants to get serious about taking on the unquesitoned leader in hybrids for the last decade-plus, they’re going to have to deliver on superior mileage – which is what people are shelling out extra for – lest they get backlash.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I take issue with that Autoblog review (and the one of the Fusion Hybrid, both of which were written by the same guy). He basically comes to the conclusion that because the cars don’t get their EPA ratings in the real world, they are of no merit in any way, regardless of good qualities elsewhere (interior quality, handling, NVH, etc etc), and even more stupidly, regardless of how they compare in the real world with the Prius, which is what really matters. Autoblog got 37.3mpg when they drove the Prius V, which is not a big difference.

      I don’t know what numbers Autoblog got with their Fusion and Camry, but Consumer Reports got a still-excellent 39mpg combined with their Fusion Hybrid, 1mpg better than the Camry Hybrid. Their results with the C-Max vs Prius V were more disparate, at 37mpg for the Ford versus I believe 40 or 41 for the Toyota, but still, not a very big difference when the mpg numbers are so high to begin with.

      The issue isn’t that Ford’s hybrids aren’t efficient, because they certainly are, it’s that their EPA ratings are too optimistic.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      C&D thinks they know why Ford’s Hybrids’ mpg diverge so much from their advertising – Ford selected an option that does not fit hybrids:
      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/why-is-the-epa-so-bad-at-estimating-hybrid-fuel-economy-feature-time-to-stop-extrapolating-page-3

      But that does not explain why the Ecoboost engines get such poor real world mpg.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’d say the reason Ecoboost engines don’t do so well in the real world is that drivers are putting that boost to use. I’m willing to bet that on the test cycle the turbo does not come into play much. I remember getting much worse mileage in my brother’s Saab 900 turbo back in the day that he did because I was getting my first turbo kicks ever and leaned on the throttle a lot. He was conservative with acceleration and his fuel usage was much better as a result. Turbos eat fuel when you get on them, and horsepower is addictive. No surprise here.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Some of the reports on Fuelly are for very, very good mileage. I’d say the 10% extra weight of the C-Max makes it extremely sensitive to your driving style. As noted, too, horsepower is addictive and the C-Max does have some of that.

      Also, SV, the Prius V has noticeably more cargo space. It’s a bigger vehicle. If it got noticeably better fuel economy than the C-Max, that’s a solid win.

      The big problem here is that hybrid buyers are expectig really good fuel economy, so a hybrid must deliver very competitively, even if the financial difference between 35 and 37mpg is about the same as a Starbucks coffee once a month. If they end up doing poorly, they’re not going to shrug it off, like someone who bought an F-350; they’re going to remember it the next time they buy a car.

      I like that Ford has managed to bring out a sophisticated full hybrid system at a very competitive price but they have really got to go back to Engineering, remove some of the weight and I’d suggest they put in a smaller engine (a 1.5L, like the G2 Prius) and depend on their superior electrics for performance.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        I think you’re mistaking the Prius buyer for the hybrid buyer. For better or worse, a certain kind of person buys a Prius: obsessed with mileage beyond reason, indifferent to horsepower and cabin comforts, and to a certain extent, interested in having that Prius badge follow them around. Frankly, Ford probably wouldn’t have a shot at some of those buyers even if the thing got 60MPG and was the size of a Tahoe.

        The other segment of hybrid buyers, though, are urban dwellers who want a small, practical, and efficient car. For people with short commutes, even 37MPG is a huge improvement when you consider that something like a Focus gets 27 in the city. And those buyers are the ones that care about things like cabin furnishings and horsepower.

        The C-Max is not exactly the same as the Prius, nor does it need to be. There is some overlap in its buyer pool, but there are a decent number of buyers who would never cross shop the two. I am in that category — I would never consider a Prius, since it drives like a penalty box on wheels, but I could see myself in a C-Max.

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          Sweeping generalizations and stereotyping are just that.

          “obsessed with mileage beyond reason, indifferent to horsepower and cabin comforts, and to a certain extent, interested in having that Prius badge follow them around.”
          Right.
          You have never even met me. I will admit to being obsessed with fuel economy, have been for over 40 years. Is that beyond reason? Really?

          I have considered taking the Prius badge off of the car. I have heard it results in less rude conduct the part of other drivers. Hard to document, but drivers seriously seem to be less rude towards me when I am driving my anonymous 2000 Corolla.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I think you’re onto something, perhaps rudeness from others has become part of the overall Prius image.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            I haven’t met you, but I’ve met a lot of Prius buyers; many of them are my friends and neighbors. I’m sorry if my post came out sounding judgmental; I didn’t intend it that way.

            Frankly, though, I think you’re making my point better than I was able. Fuel economy is something you’re “obsessed with” — that is, it’s a pastime as much as an economic consideration. (When I said “beyond reason,” that’s what I meant.) There’s a whole community that’s built up around the Prius and hypermiling. For someone for whom hypermiling is a hobby (for lack of a better word), the Prius is the best car out there.

            But there are plenty of potential hybrid buyers who aren’t “hybrid enthusiasts,” to use a better term. And to miss that distinction is, I think, largely to miss the point of a car like the C-Max. It has an interior appropriate to its price class, and (from reports I’ve read) better dynamics, while still having very good fuel economy compared to non-hybrids. Plenty of people will find those advantages more compelling than a few extra MPG.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          The only reason it’s the Prius badge that gets the heat, admiration and loyalty is because Toyota dug in and did it first. And best. The point of Toyota’s hybrid program was to develop a car that got unparalleled fuel economy. Job done.

          Maybe there are somewhat different markets that don’t overlap much but Toyota has set an expectation for what “hybrid” means. If Ford is building a hybrid, Ford had better deliver.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            Toyota has, in the Prius, a fantastic hybrid. It is unparalleled in fuel economy for its size. I agree with you completely there. Their strategy is getting them about 13k sales a month. Their new Goldilocks strategy with the baby Prius and the big brother Prius seems to be bringing in an additional 7k or so.

            But here’s the thing: all three Prius models make up about 2.5% of the US passenger car market. Clearly everyone does not want one.

            So a competitor has two potential strategies for a new hybrid model: cannibalize Prius sales (maximum potential benefit: 20k a month) or cannibalize sales of non-hybrid cars (maximum potential benefit: 700k+ a month). Which makes more sense?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Ford has the same problem w/ the Ecoboost engines. The Fusion 1.6 and 2.0 Ecoboosts deliver just about class bottom mpg in actual driving according to CR.

    But remember the Equinox. Did GM pay a price for real world mileage so far below what they advertise?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Sounds like Ford’s sales numbers are as honest as their EPA ratings. It’s pretty cheeky to claim to have sold more Fusion Hybrids than Honda sold Accords, which was the best selling car in the US last month. You’d think the total Fusion sales would be higher than they are, or at least they’d be as high as the subset of Fusion Hybrid sales.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    My C-Max’s lifetime average is just under 44 MPG and climbing. It was 38 before the 60 degree days came. It’s not unusual for me to beat 47 MPG in the city. On the highway, that’s pretty much the upper limit. I think Ford would have been wiser to rate the car at 42 to 44 MPG. It would still sell, and fewer people would be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Ford doesn’t “rate” them per se they use the EPA system to derive the numbers and have to post those. Now of course they can “make an error” in their aero drag calculations like Hyundai/Kia.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      How do you drive it? Are you intentionally hypermiling it?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Traditional hypermiling techniques are a certain way to obtain poor mileage with a Hybrid. You want to accelerate rather aggressively so that the motor assists the acceleration. Once you hit 5mph OVER the speed limit remove the foot from the gas and then gently apply it so it goes into EV mode. But do not apply enough throttle to maintain speed instead let it slow down ever so slightly. When it comes time to stop you do not want to coast to a stop you want to use the brakes but just enough to engage the regen braking but not the friction brakes until the last possible second. On the freeway use the cruise as much as possible instead of lowering MPG like it does on most steeply geared cars that it forces to downshift it will add battery power while climbing slight grades and regen on the way down.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Anybody know the mechanical particulars of the Ford hybrid system?
    I wonder just how much of patent lock Toyota has on their two electric motor/generator power split device design?

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      I am not understanding the questions?
      If you are asking if they are similar then yes they are.
      However if you are asking if Ford pays Toyota for patents on the system then no they dont. They both agreed to not sue each other due to similarities but thats it.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Well 2012 and earlier Fords did use an Asin eCVT the captive supplier of Toyota and both are paying royalties to a 3rd party for the power split system. Ford and Toyota also have been jointly working on a system for full size pickups for near two years.

        The 2013 Fusion and the C-Max use eCVTs produced by Ford but do use the same basic architecture as the earlier models.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        They did a patent licensing swap. Toyota got some sort of diesel tech licensed from Ford in return for licensing over HSD.

  • avatar
    NeinNeinNein

    I drove the CMAX Hybrid—-a bit peppey at like 150hp styling thats better than the Prius. Tons of room in the fold down seats. Nimble little ride. I prefer it over a Prius, but the old lady refuses to drive Ford. Oh well-whatcha gonna do? Perception just hasnt got caught up to reality of improved American cars.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Prius sales are down cause Toyota made the mistake of having a family instead of making the Prius feel less like a penalty box toaster. I know plenty of people who went with hybrids that get less mpg because they hated the numb driving dynamics and overall cheapness of the prius. Plus the Leaf is the new flagship for greenies.

  • avatar

    The Ford C-Max hybrid got a really weak review on Autoblog.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Really comes down to a comparison of”

    Fusion hybrid vs. Camry hybrid

    C-Max hybrid vs. Prius V

    MKZ hybrid vs. ES hybrid

    The Fusion outsold the Camry by a few hundred and the C-Max was within a couple hundred of the Prius V.

    And even the MKZ, with it just resolving its supply issue, is within the hunt of the ES (the next few months will be telling as Lincoln is allocating more production for the hybrid).

    Ford in one swift swoop is now competing head to head against Toyota for hybrid sales in most of the segments where the 2 compete.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    Ford had better figure out how to fix their failed hybrids. With terrible MPG figures that are FAR below the printed figures, people are going to catch on quickly that Ford Hybrids are garbage.

    The last generation Fusion had NO PROBLEM meeting the fuel economy figured printed on the sticker. So Ford is clearly pencil whipping the figures for their new Hybrid appliances.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Ford has always been spotty in their supply of hybrids to their dealers. It has improved somewhat. Until the current generation of Ford Fusion hybrids, whenever I went to a Ford dealer to look at cars, the dealer either had no Fusion hybrid in stock or one. Usually that one would be equipped to the max and $10k higher than the basic model. Lately the dealers seem to have 1 or two of the C-Max Hybrids and 1-2 of the C-Max Energi (plugin) with similar inventory for their Fusion counterparts. I had to special order my C-Max. It took 2 months to come in but I got exactly what I wanted. It helps that the C-Max is made in the US.

    I kind of chuckle when I see the C-Max being compared to the Prius-V. Although Ford says the C-Max has 24.5 cubic feet of storage behind the back row, you can only use about half of that if you want to see out the back window or if you don’t want missiles flying toward your head when you stop suddenly. The Prius V probably has double the usable cargo space as the C-max. The C-Max is much closer to the regular Prius hatchback in cargo space. The Prius V and the C-Max are very close in passenger space. By all reports though,the C-Max is much quieter than the Prius-V and much quicker. Even if the Prius-V gets better mileage than the C-Max, the difference is less than one tank of gas per year.

    In terms of performance, the C-Max compares most closely to the, popularly-priced hybrid sedans. The C-Max has roughly the same passenger space as the Fusion Hybrid, Camry Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid. It has similar or slightly superior cargo space as these sedans with the back seat up. The C-Max delivers comparable performance and fuel economy as these sedans. Similarly equipped though, the C-Max is likely to be a couple grand cheaper than the hybrid sedans.

    Ford has hidden a lot of technology in the C-Max including active noise reduction (ala the Honda Odyssey)and anti-roll and anti-yaw control. Like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, the C-Max uses active grill shutters to block off airflow when it is not needed for the engine. Supposedly the cruise control on the C-Max will reference GPS data to plan throttle settings for upcoming grade changes.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The C-Max feels a lot roomier than the Fusion/Camry though, due to being more upright. The greater glass area probably helps too.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Fusion Hybrid starts out a little more than $1000 cheaper than the C-Max. When I did the build and price for both a couple of months back, the C-Max was $100 cheaper as I would want them equipped.

      Meanwhile I found a used Fusion Hybrid equipped exactly the way I wanted and a price that I couldn’t refuse.

      Around here they were flying off the lots,as soon as they hit the ground. Most of what was in-stock were either base models with no options or loaded with every single option, nothing in-between. That led to my Wife’s boss ordering his Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      When I read comments like yours, I worry about Detroit. A new Ford hybrid is 30,000 dollars down the drain.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “Supposedly the cruise control on the C-Max will reference GPS data to plan throttle settings for upcoming grade changes.”

      If true, that is awesome. I want them to add a +/- range limit, too. Allow it to go X miles/hour over downhill and drop to Y miles/hour under uphill.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Autoweek 5/1/13 CMax 31.8 mpg average

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130501/CARREVIEWS/130429799

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Hybrid buyers actually care about MPG. So if Ford is fudging numbers, they’ll avoid the product.

    Toyota’s hybrids deliver the goods and have a stellar reputation for durability, so Ford really has an uphill battle.


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