Earlier today, we told you about Ford’s decision to increase production of the Focus-based C-MAX minivan at its Valencia plant in Spain to meet strong demand from European customers. We also noted that Ford was planning to launch the longer and more spacious 7-seat Grand C-MAX in the United States.
Well, it turns out there’s been a slight change of plans as the Detroit automaker just announced it won’t be bringing the petrol-powered Grand C-MAX to the U.S. after all. But not all is lost for fans of the Focus-based minivan as Ford will focus on the five-seat C-MAX in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid formats. The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicles were previewed at the Detroit Auto Show this past January.
Ford’s plan it to compete head on the forthcoming Prius V minivan and possibly steal some customers away from GM’s Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf with the plug-in hybrid version.
The company said the pure hybrid version of the C-MAX is targeted to deliver better fuel economy than Fusion Hybrid and travel at a higher all-electric speed than Fusion Hybrid’s 47 mph. It will also be the first of two new Ford Hybrids to use lithium-ion battery technology.
The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid will be equipped with a 240-volt charging system allowing it –according to Ford- to fully recharge faster than Chevy Volt. Ford added that it is being engineered to “deliver more overall driving range than any other plug-in or extended range electric vehicle”.
Both variants of the North American C-MAX minivan will be built alongside the all-new 2012 Focus and Focus Electric at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant.
U.S. sales are expected to begin late next year.