Ford C-Max Energi Sets Sales Record In December, Looks To Improve In 2017

10 months ago by Mark Kane 23

Ford C-Max Energi sales in U.S. - December 2016

Ford C-Max Energi sales in U.S. – December 2016

Once again the Ford C-Max Energi won our ‘best plug-in you forgot exists’ award (if that was a real thing), finishing as the sixth most popular plug-in electric car in U.S. for 2016 with 7,957 sales.

The 2017 C-Max Energi is slightly refreshed, has a couple more miles range, and a better price-point...which naturally leads to more sales!

The 2017 C-Max Energi is slightly refreshed, has a couple more miles range, and a better price-point…which naturally leads to more sales!

The growth over 2015 is less than 5%, and the C-Max Energi in general doesn’t often make a splash, selling around 7,000-8,000 copies a year since its launch in late 2012.  But solid consistency, if not sexy, should still count for something.

However in December, the C-Max Energi significantly broke out of its norms, and noted its best ever result of 1,289 sales (123% year-over-year), which made up a massive 59% of total C-Max sales.  The average C-Max Energi share in C-Max sales stands in 2016 at 40%.

Why the sudden surge?  And will it continue into 2016?

A MSRP price cut of $4,650 ($27,120 + DST) and a slight efficiency/range bump (~21 miles) is definitely the reason why sales improved in December so drastically, and should help the C-Max Energi continue to outperform past numbers.

Why the sudden ‘sharper pencil’ on the C-Max Energi offering in December?

Two words – Prius Prime.  The 2nd generation of the Prius Plug-in debuted in November, and offers 25 miles of range, and industry best 133 MPGe rating (for plug-in hybrids) and a price-point $27,950.  If Ford wanted to keep volume sales of the C-Max going it needed to make a big adjustment, and to its credit, they did.

While we don’t expect the C-Max Energi to live past its 2018 model year (it will be replaced with another PHEV offering), we do expect to see much great sales in 2017 as Ford looks to maximize profits from the line.

Here is sales outlook for the C-Max Energi since late 2012 through the end of 2016:

Ford C-Max Energi sales in U.S. - December 2016

Ford C-Max Energi sales in U.S. – December 2016

Overall, Ford plug-in car sales are on the rise. In 2016 Ford sold 24,796 plug-ins, which is 31% more than year ago, or about 1% of total Ford sales.

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. - December 2016

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. – December 2016

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. - December 2016

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. – December 2016

Cumulative Ford plug-in sales stand at 83,701, including 43,327 Fusion Energi, 33,509 C-Max Energi and 6,865 Focus Electric registrations.

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. - December 2016

Ford plug-in car sales in U.S. – December 2016

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23 responses to "Ford C-Max Energi Sets Sales Record In December, Looks To Improve In 2017"

  1. R.S says:

    You can say lots of things about the Prime, surely some of them negative, but its price is impressive. And it will have a huge effect on all PHEVs, Ford being the first to react, but I am sure GM will want to re-evaluate, if their Volt is really worth 7k more.

    1. mx says:

      Yes, it’s electric motors could be bigger, for better acceleration. But, it’s also got Collision Prevention, Pedestrian Alert and automatic cruise control, where the CMax does not.

      It’s also got Gen 1. of the Volt interior design.

      1. mx says:

        The Prime also has a very large, too large of a gas tank. They could have saved some weight but modifying that. There must have been a “Prime Budget”, and it didn’t make the cut.

        1. Brian says:

          This has always been one of my complaints against the CMax. It has a 14 gallon tank! I would gladly swap out some of that space for more cargo room.

          1. Is not the Gas Tank usually fitted under the space below the back seat? That likely sets its size in this case!

            However, when they all start to fill That Space with Batteries, similar to the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, they will need to re-think where to put some new location for it!

            Ideally they could also build PHEV’s with flat pack batteries on the bottom, but they still have to run a hot exhaust pipe from front to back. Lots of challenges for PHEV makers!

            1. SJC says:

              The gas tank is usually between the back seat and spare tire. The C-Max Energi is 3850 pounds! That is about 1000 pounds more than a compact I.C.E. equivalent.

  2. David Murray says:

    It’s hard to say how Ford could be wanting to “maximize profits” when they just slashed the price. I wonder if the vehicle is profitable at all. Did anyone notice, if you go to Ford’s website and look, that the C-Max Energi is now priced identical to the C-Max Hybrid at $27,120. So with tax credits, the Energi is actually cheaper. Still, I have no doubts this will increase sales, probably at the expense of the hybrid version of the car.

    1. ArkansasVolt says:

      When I looked, the hybrid is only $24,120… so $3k cheaper before tax credit.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        David,

        You see this quite often in models from an aging assembly line – price reductions, lots of new/no cost options.

        Vehicles are priced actuarially based on expectations for sales versus the R&D and the cost of tooling up a line…so there is a couple billion dollars of premiums build into the MSRP of the first gen C-Max out of Michigan.

        However, once the platform and assembly are deemed to have an expiry date, those original pricing algorithms are trashed, and a company will look at the line (and built parts/tooling) as ‘paid for’, or rather a sunk fixed cost…and will look to just get as much value as possible out of it, whether than be in profit per vehicle, or in labor advantages.

        Ultimately to take maximum advantage, Ford could decided to volume batch out ~20k units (or whatever) at the end, then close up the shop.

      2. David Murray says:

        OK, you are correct.. I saw the two next to each other but the Hybrid was the Titanium model. So yeah, if we look at the hybrid SE, then it is cheaper than the Energi. But once you factor in the tax credit, the Energi is still cheaper.

        1. Tom says:

          A very aggressive price point much like the Prius Prime.

  3. Michael Will says:

    May be due to the recent EPA rule confirmation on overall mpg goals, the plugins give them more credits to offset the gas guzzlers they are selling at higher margins.

  4. bro1999 says:

    I would only lease one, and then only if the lease was super cheap. 21 miles of EV range with a battery Ford will not stand behind….no thanks. The C-Max will die a rather uneventful death. Too bad, because I used to drive one. Ford simply is just doing the minimum to keep up with CARB/CAFE requirements.

    1. Lou Grinzo says:

      While I’m not at all impressed by Ford’s pluggable car efforts to date, I think the C-Max Energi (oh, how I hate that name) is the basis for a really decent car. Bump the battery range to, say, 40 miles, with little or no price increase, and you’d have a winner.

      Better yet, do the above and also bring out a BEV version, but retire the non-plug version.

      In general, I would LOVE to hear what various car companies are doing in terms of contingency planning and engineering work. I have to believe that every one of them has a projection of what battery prices and gov’t incentives will do in the coming years. And I would guess that they all have plans, possibly linked to ongoing R&D, for what to do if battery prices drop quicker than expected.

      1. David Murray says:

        I agree the name is terrible and hard for the average person to even remember. I also agree the car would be much more viable with double the EV range. I just don’t think their platform allows for that large of a battery pack, unless they battery density improves quite a bit. And while I love my Volt and hate to admit it, the 21-mile EV range would actually be enough for me on the majority of days. So I still consider the Energi vehicles viable for a lot of people.

        1. Well David, BMW moved from a 22 kWh pack to a 33 kWh pack, in the same space on the i3, so maybe Ford has a supplier that can’t deliver to them the same advantage?

          On the other hand, and while this is a nice price drop for the C-Max energi, would not bumping up the Battery size by 50% at the same original price, give them a better advantage?

          Maybe the could do both, and have a cheaper 21 mile range model, and a 32 mile range model at the previous price?

          That would give their customers a choice, and they would quickly see if price or range leads in interest and sales demand!

          1. Tman says:

            Panasonic is the supplier of the prismatic cells in the Ford energi cars and regular hybrids. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/02/panasonic-20120224.html

            I believe Panasonic has a higher density version ready to go, but Ford is not interested in the upgrade.

      2. wavelet says:

        Lou, the C-max Energi is basically a dead-end car. As it is, cargo room is so small it actually doesn’t fit its segment anymore
        In Europe, where the ICE C-Max is a highly successful MPV (with a smaller sister, B-Max and a larger one, S-Max) Ford doesn’t even try selling the no PHEV or hybrid — they wouldn’t work as MPVs.

        Expanding the battery in the current conversion appears impossible while keeping the car usable — they obviously need to redesign the car from scratch, and hopefully, that’s what they’re doing. A Volt-like drivetrain with similar range would work andsell extremely well.

        1. mx says:

          The energy density of the batteries have greatly improved.
          They could put in the latest battery in the same location and increase the range.

          But, even better they really need a redesign for better cargo area.

          And they need the latest safety options.

  5. Just_Chris says:

    I really wish ford would take the plunge and actually do a decent job on a Fusion, C-max, focus and S-max PHEV. The 20 mile range is not the end of the world. I’d rather have more but at that level you could probably price it at the level of a regular hybrid. Properly designed the battery pack could sit under the driver and passenger seat leaving the cargo space the same in the PHEV model as the regular models. If those models were offered at a similar price premium as seen with the current C-max and Fusion, Ford would struggle, or rather their battery supplier would struggle, to keep up with demand. Perhaps when the Prime starts eating into the Focus/C-max market and the Pacifica starts taking some of the S-max market Ford will pull its finger out.

  6. flipsaug says:

    No one ever mentions this but the C-Max seat ergonomics are much more SUV like and comfortable on longer trips than any similar vehicle I sat in. Commuting is just fine but my back appreciates this on the occasional longer ride.

    1. mx says:

      And that’s why is such a shame Ford is stuck with bad management. The engineering is there.

  7. Bloggin says:

    C-Max Energi should do well for it’s ‘expected’ last couple of model years in the US.

    But next gen Focus starts production in 2018 as MY2019, which is supposed to offer sedan, hatch, wagon, coupe, FWD and AWD, along with hybrid and plug-in models. Next gen platform should offer much better battery storage capacity, along with less overall weight by using more lightweight materials.

    Ford’s new EV, what’s currently being called Model E or the small suv EV is due to start production in 2019 as a MY2020 model. Hopefully it’s a derivative of the NG Focus or NG Escape(which is due at the same time)

    But Ford tends not to be on the bleeding edge with any of their products, but waiting until a substantial market develops with long term growth viability, then offering their product. Which is why it took so long for EcoSport and Ranger to come to NA.