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Terminal Velocity: Ford C-Max Energi To Vie With Volt, Prius

One of the most interesting battles of the new car-model year will be a three-way title fight in the plug-in hybrid segment among Ford’s new C-Max Energi, the new Prius plug-in and the reigning champion (and only real contestant until now), the Chevrolet Volt.

Ford announced suggested pricing starting at $33,745 the other day and provided some glimpses into its go-to-market strategy for Energi. Ford also will be launching a conventional C-Max hybrid.

For Energi, the company is emphasizing the car’s smaller battery system than Volt. This means Energi purchasers are eligible only for half the tax credit of Volt purchasers and will be stuck with much shorter battery-only range.

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But it also contributes to the fact that Energi owners will be required to pay a lower price than Volt buyers, both sticker and net after the tax credit, and will attain much longer overall range, factoring in the capabilities and performance of the gasoline powertrains on board each vehicle.

Meanwhile, the Prius plug-in, PHV — which so far is sold only in a few states — has a much shorter electric-only range than Ford’s C-Max Energi. While its sticker price is lower, its net price after the U.S. tax credit is higher.

Here are most of the relevant numbers. The main reason for the differences lies in the size of the battery pack in each model: The larger the battery pack, the longer the electric-only range. Volt has the largest battery pack. In turn, federal tax credits are based on the size of a vehicle’s battery pack (though some state tax credits are uniform):

MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent): Volt 98, Prius PHV, 95, Energi 95.

Starting sticker price: Volt, $39,145; Prius PHV, $32,760; Energi, $33,750.

U.S.-government tax credit: Volt, $7,500; Prius PHV, $2,500; Energi, $3,750.

Net price after credit: Volt $31,645; Prius PHV, $30,260; Energi, $29,995.

Electric-only range: Volt, about 38 miles; Prius PHV; about 15 miles; Energi, about 20 miles.

Range including gasoline engine: Volt, about 400; Prius PHV; 540 miles; Energi, 550 miles.
More forbes.com

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