Low Energi: Production Ends on Ford's C-Max Plug-in, With Hybrid to Follow

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s a near-silent swan song for a duo of electrified Ford models. The Ford C-Max, which debuted in late 2012 in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid form, hit its sales peak during its first full year on the market, declining every year since.

As Ford Motor Company shakes up its U.S. production landscape — ironically, to bolster production of trucks and SUVs — the ungainly-looking C-Max is on its way to the cemetery. The automaker has confirmed the ceasing of production of the C-Max Plug-in, with the Hybrid variant to follow in the middle of next year.

The discontinuation, confirmed by Ford in a message to Green Car Reports, comes as Ford gears up the Michigan Assembly plant for future production of the Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. The $700 million upgrade means the slow-selling C-Max bites the dust, with production of the compact Focus sent to China.

Both models were originally expected to set up shop in Mexico, but Ford’s decision to kibosh its proposed plant saw one model culled and the other sent on a long boat ride.

“Ford C-Max Energi production has ended,” Dan Jones, Ford’s North America Car Communications Manager, told Green Car Reports. “We will continue to make C-Max Hybrid at Michigan Assembly Plant until mid-2018.”

Production of the Ranger is expected to commence at Michigan Assembly in late 2018. As for the automaker’s green cred, there’s newer electrified vehicles in the works, including a fully electric crossover due out in 2020.

The C-Max Hybrid was America’s eighth best-selling hybrid vehicle in October, capturing 3.71 percent of the U.S. hybrid market. Sales of the plugless variant sank over 18 percent over the first 10 months of 2017, even with October sales rising over 33 percent compared to the same month a year prior.

The C-Max Energi, on the other hand, was the fifth best-selling plug-in hybrid in October, making up 8.54 percent of that particular segment. Sales of the plug-in variant sank 16.7 percent, year-over-year, though year-to-date sales are actually up over 20 percent.

Ford’s green twins earned a black eye early in their lifespan. The automaker faced criticism and lawsuits after real-world fuel economy didn’t match the vehicles’ lofty EPA ratings. The regulator was forced to dial back the stated fuel economy of both models, with the hybrid version receiving two haircuts. Combined fuel economy for the latter model fell from 47 mpg to 40 mpg.

Ultimately, the Blue Oval was also forced to hand over some extra green to these early green car buyers, compensating for the extra fuel consumed.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Nov 13, 2017

    Glad to hear from others with real positive experiences of the car. Long term reliability remains to be seen. The oldest cars, 2013s suffered many recalls and some major transmission failures, most handled under warranty. Personally, I wouldn't buy one of those, but neither would you. Consumer Reports now recommends these as new and used cars. The only US C-Max forum I've found is small enough to read fully in a week or so, which I did, of course. There is no, repeat, no subforum for engine issues. Infotainment problems do arise, as in all cars. There's little talk of battery replacement yet. My new '17 Energi came with zero defects, and my daughter's 50,000 mile 2014 Hybrid has needed no work since purchased in May. Seems like a reasonable risk, for a car that costs about a nickel a mile in fuel and watts. Don't forget the 2017's new surprise feature- you can turn off the center display screen when you're not using it. Every car should offer that distraction-killer, and I was delighted to find mine does (the 2014 doesn't).

  • Jcf2242 Jcf2242 on Nov 10, 2020

    Hello. Bought '17 C-Max SE hybrid with leather in 2020. Great car. On 1,000+ mi trip which included interstate speeds, in town & state roads avg over that trip was 40.5 mpg & that was with 3 passengers in car & 2 carry on bags & some A/C use. Very quiet inside under normal operation, comfortable seats, sufficient power. If you set cruise ctrl on 65 mph and stay in right lane, you can obtain 46 mpg on a 60 mi round trip to work. 42-44 mpg routine on such a trip. & very reasonable cost to buy used. I am very pleased with car overall. No issues with seat comfort as some mentioned. Only downsides: turning radius not as compact as would be expected for this size of car & no spare tire--but I bought one aftermarket. My perspective is, it is a great driving, practical, comfortable, roomy, quiet car, that just happens to get excellent fuel economy.

  • Carson D Some of my friends used to drive Tacomas. They bought them new about fifteen years ago, and they kept them for at least a decade. While it is true that they replaced their Tacomas with full-sized pickups that cost a fair amount of money, I don't think they'd have been Tacoma buyers in 2008 if a well-equipped 4x4 Tacoma cost the equivalent of $65K today. Call it a theory.
  • Eliyahu A fine sedan made even nicer with the turbo. Honda could take a lesson in seat comfort.
  • MaintenanceCosts Seems like a good way to combine the worst attributes of a roadster and a body-on-frame truck. But an LS always sounds nice.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I recently saw, in Florida no less an SSR parked in someone’s driveway next to a Cadillac XLR. All that was needed to complete the Lutz era retractable roof trifecta was a Pontiac G6 retractable. I’ve had a soft spot for these an other retro styled vehicles of the era but did Lutz really have to drop the Camaro and Firebird for the SSR halo vehicle?
  • VoGhost I suspect that the people criticizing FSD drive an "ecosport".