Two new eco-friendly versions of Ford's C-Max people carrier will be carrying people our way in 2012 -- a C-Max Energi extended-range vehicle and a C-Max Hybrid. Both will go head-to-head with the Vauxhall Ampera and Prius v.
Both models use a 2-litre Atkinson-cycle engine and lithium-ion batteries, albeit in different ways. In the C-Max Hybrid, the engine powers the car's front wheels directly, with additional power coming from an electric motor. In the C-Max Energi, however, the wheels are driven exclusively by the motor, with the petrol engine acting as a generator to sustain charge in the battery pack.
Ford hopes the C-Max Hybrid will better the 41mpg (US) achieved by the company's own Fusion Hybrid and achieve an electric-only top speed in excess of that car's 47mph EV pace.
Ford hasn't specified an electric-only range for the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, but it says the car will have a range of at least 500 miles. Curiously, this is some 150 miles more than the Vauxhall Ampera's 350-mile maximum.
Like most cars of its ilk, the C-Max Energi uses a regenerative braking system to harvest power that would otherwise have been lost as heat during braking. Ford hopes to make the most of this feature by implementing a Brake Coach system.
This, we understand, shows drivers the number of extra miles gained through sensible braking and scores their performance by displaying a Honda-style plant that grows an increasing number of leaves on its branches as reward for more economical driving.
Production of both the C-Max Hybrid and Energi will begin in Ford's Michigan plant in 2012, with European models set to commence assembly in Valencia, Spain, in 2013.