The Case For The 20-Mile PHEV

AUG 23 2013 BY DAVID MURRAY 84

Like The Fusion Energi, The C-Max Energi Also Has A 21 Mile All-Electric Range

Like The Fusion Energi, The C-Max Energi Also Has A 21 Mile All-Electric Range

I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the Ford Energi products since they came out. I haven’t had a chance to drive one yet, but I’ve seen a few on the roads and at charging stations. Everyone here probably knows what they are. Just to recap, they are basically souped up hybrids with plug-in capability and an all electric range of around 21 miles.

2014 Chevrolet Volt Features 38 Miles Of Electric Range

2014 Chevrolet Volt Features 38 Miles Of Electric Range

A lot of people balk at such a low range. In fact, one of the most commonly requested features on the Chevy Volt forum is for more all-electric range.

Driving a Volt myself, I certainly wouldn’t mind more range either. However, I don’t really need it. In fact, with my 10-mile daily round-trip commute, one of the Energi models could easily provide me with an all-electric driving experience and still leave some extra range for small side trips during lunch or after work. In most cases I could fully recharge about an hour after getting home on my 240V setup. Then I’d be ready for some more all-electric driving in the evening. I can’t be alone. There must be millions of people with commutes like mine.

Lets talk about some of the advantages of a 20 mile PHEV:

  • 2013 Ford Fusion Gets A Charge

    2013 Ford Fusion Gets A Charge

    The battery charges faster. Well, not really. I tend to look at battery charging as a measure of miles-per-hour. I don’t care about full-recharge time because it is very rare that I’m charging a fully depleted battery. On a 240 volt station, the Energi models charge at about the same rate as a Volt, about 10 miles for every hour. However, the general population seems obsessed with charging times, for some reason. And to be able to say it charges in 2 hours is a great marketing gimmick.

  • Battery pack should be half the cost of a Chevy Volt and much less than half the cost of a pure electric vehicle. Being that the battery is the biggest expense of a setup like this, that can significantly lower the cost of the vehicle compared to more capable plug-ins.
  • Because the battery is small (compared to a more capable EV) it should be possible to retrofit that battery into just about any car body. Obviously under the floor would be ideal, but even the cargo area can work. That’s a big cost savings for manufacture.
  • The drivetrain can be identical to any other 2-motor hybrid system, without much of any change. Again, another big cost savings for manufacture.
  • Despite anemic acceleration performance in EV mode, full hybrid mode can actually outperform other more capable PHEV and full electric vehicles.
  • Less risk for both the manufacturer and the consumer. The manufacturer has to invest less money to develop the car, since it is based on existing designs. So if it doesn’t sell, the loss is much smaller. Also the warranty should be less risky since most of the car will already be tried and true. As for the consumer, they pay a smaller premium over a regular hybrid, thus lowering their financial risk and almost ensures eventual payback.
  • People who are looking for financial payback but have short commutes have a hard time justifying the cost of a Chevy Volt or all electric car if their commute is 20 miles or less anyway. After all, they won’t use much gas with such a short commute no matter what kind of car they drive.
Ford Sells About 500 Fusion Energis Per Month.  Good, But Not Great

Ford Sells About 500 Fusion Energis Per Month. Good, But Not Great

So, why aren’t they selling better? Ford currently sells roughly 500 units per month on the C-Max and Fusion Energi models (roughly 1,000 combined between the two models.) By comparison, GM sells roughly 2,000 Volts per month on average. Heck, that number may even double with the recent price cut. I think there are many reasons for this, and some solutions.

  • The C-Max Hybrid Far Outsells The Plug-In Energi Version Now...But Maybe Not Forever

    The C-Max Hybrid Far Outsells The Plug-In Energi Version Now…But Maybe Not Forever

    The tax credit structure is one issue. Since the Energi models qualify for a $3,750 tax credit and the Volt qualifies for a $7,500 credit, in most cases you can drive away in a Volt for about the same price as a C-Max Energi. If leasing, you will probably get a lower payment on a Volt due to the structure of the leases and how the federal tax credit works. This reason, more than anything else, is why I have a Volt in my garage and not a C-max Energi. However, this will change when the tax credits go away.

  • Lack of manufacturing capacity. Some sources have said that Ford simply doesn’t have any more capacity in their Michigan plant to produce more of them because the factory is already pumping out so many gasoline cars.
  • The price tag is another problem, sort of. They seem to be selling plenty of C-Max hybrids with a base price of $25,200. But not so many C-Max Energi models at 32,950. However, if you calculate in the tax credit of $3,750 that brings the energi model down to $29,200. That already puts it in the running with a better equipped C-Max and since the Energi model is pretty well equipped, that actually makes the price about the same. But I’ve heard Ford is secretly giving up to $5,000 discounts on these cars, which actually means you could get an Energi for $24,200. So you could theoretically buy an C-Max Energi for less money than a base-model C-max and get more equipment too! I think a lot of people just get sticker shock when they see the MSRP and just don’t know any better.
  • As for the Fusion Energi, that’s a different story. A base Fusion is $21,900. But A Fusion Energi is $38,700. Even with the tax credit and $5,000 discount the price tag is still $29,950. That’s a hard number for a lot of people to swallow. And while the Fusion hybrid is $27,200, people will probably make the comparison to the gasoline-only version when running their numbers on fuel savings. The solution to this problem, besides lowering the price some, is to get people to realize that driving on electric is fun and making less trips to the gas station not only saves money but is convenient.
  • The last, but definitely not the least problem, is the battery packs being crammed into the cargo area. The C-Max Energi has virtually no cargo area at all. This is a deal breaker for a lot of people. This problem could easily be solved by re-engineering the body of the car to accommodate the battery pack underneath the car. However, this sort of defeats one of the advantages mentioned above, which is being able to use existing car designs. My hope is that the next generation of these vehicles will solve the issue. I also expect that battery sizes will shrink over time, which will also partially solve this problem.

So to summarize. I believe the 20-mile PHEV can be a very viable product in the future, mostly because the entry barriers are lowered for both the consumer and the manufacturer. With tax credits gone, the price will be much more competitive than more capable cars. In fact, I’m going to make a prediction that within 10 years this concept may replace the traditional hybrid vehicle completely due to a reduction in battery cost and size

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84 Comments on "The Case For The 20-Mile PHEV"

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Tom Moloughney

I agree David, especially with the nice last paragraph summary. I think these low AER PHEV’s will allow people to affordably get their first taste of a plug-in vehicle. That, in many cases, will lead to their next car being fully electric 4-6 years down the road when battery costs have come down a bit and there is more competition driving prices down on all the EV’s.

I do believe before we transition to full electrics the PHEV will rule for a decade or so. This is going to be a slow evolution to battery electric cars not a quick revolution IMHO.

Ted Fredrick

I like Davids comment that he plans a Tesa in the future… Don’t we ll plan for a Tesla in out future?

Aaron
Ford’s Focus and C-Max (especially the PHEV version) use a LOT of cargo room for the batteries. I don’t find that to be an acceptable trade off. My i-MiEV was originally a gas-powered, 660cc (!) engined Kei car, but they did an outstanding job retrofitting it with batteries. Absolutely none of its cargo or passenger space is used. I can fold the rear seats down completely flat. There is no trade off. In fact, the electric version of this car is significantly faster and better than the gas model. The Honda Fit EV does a decent job of retrofitting the car with batteries. It loses the “magic seats” that are a big selling point to the gas-powered Fit, but overall, the car is mostly unchanged (albeit a bit taller). The Focus EV, on the other hand, takes up nearly 2/3rds of its storage space in the back for batteries. It’s silly even to have fold-down rear seats with this HUGE battery lump in the way. Most of the draw of hatchbacks is their versatility in carrying cargo. Losing most of the cargo carrying capacity makes this car a study in what not to do. The C-Max PHEV does the same… Read more »
Ted Fredrick

All about tradeoffs. I bought the Focus over the leaf because I liked the looks and use it for driving to work. I agree that the cargo space stinks but that only reas its head about twice a month and the good looks are there every day. My Dad bought the leaf and loves it but my Mom comments on my cars looks every time I go over there.

Just_chris

and that s it in a perfect nut shell, a car designed by the marketing team, I am still not sure why they don,t sell better. Must be a capcity problem.

Vin
“Ford’s Focus and C-Max (especially the PHEV version) use a LOT of cargo room for the batteries. I don’t find that to be an acceptable trade off.” Well, I find the substandard acceleration and range of the MiEV to be an unacceptable tradeoff for not intruding into cargo space. But let’s look at the numbers… Per edmunds,com, Your MiEV has 13.5 cu ft behind the rear seats. The Focus Electric has 14.5 cu ft… which is more than the MiEV. So in the end, does it really matter how much cargo space the ICE versions have? Oh, and by the way, the Fit EV has 12.0 cu ft behind the rear seats (2.5 cu ft less than the Focus Electric), and the ICE Fit has 20.6 cu ft. That’s a 42% loss of volume in the Fit EV, compared to a 39% loss in the Focus Electric. Do you consider that an acceptable tradeoff? In any case, that’s less room behind the rear seats of the Fit EV than your MiEV and my Focus Electric. In any case, I think all three EVs have plenty of room back there for everyday chores. I’ve had no problems hauling three co-workers with… Read more »
GSP

Note that, like any proper EV, the MiEV is QUICKER than the gasoline version (which has a 660 cc engine).

GSP

Todd
We purchased a Ford C Max Energi in Pittsburgh . The deal closer for us was the secret ford discount + factory incentive discount+dealer discount bringing the price down below the price base msrp of a regular c max. With the 3,700 federal tax credit plus 1,200 Pa state tax credit the true price we paid went way below the non plug in c max price and below the price of a no option base Prius. Basically what is being said here about a lack of cargo room is very misleading and inaccurate. The interior usable-useful cargo room in the ford c max energi is huge compared to all other plug in hybrids in this price class point blank. The floor area right behind the back seats is just raised a few inches to make room for a taller battery that’s about it. In order for you to loose to much space by this fact depends on weather or not you must carry around a full size gas barbecue grill or other very long tall objects and such. We comfortably fit in a mid size cooler and 2, 85 pound large dogs with just one of the back seats folded… Read more »
vdiv

Another couple of reasons why the Ford 20-mile PHEVs are not so good:
— misleading the public on the hybrid mode fuel efficiency
— those 20 miles AER in the winter turn into less than 10 miles with the need for heat
— reduced performance when using EV mode
— controversial styling. Some people die by the Fusion, yet I find both the exterior and interior of the Fusion and C-MAX too busy and too ugly.

I am going to draw a squiggly line in the sand and define vehicles as electric only when their electric motor is more powerful and used for primary mechanical propulsion in all modes, with the option of occasional assistance from an ICE. Unfortunately that is not the case with the Energi drivetrain.

Todd

Our Ford C Max Energi is getting 130 MPGe combined overall in doing a 22 mile daily commute and charging up once a day in winter. Its a 10 mile hwy and 12 mile city commute up and down steep hills. As for hwy mileage without charging the battery at all its getting 43 mpg doing 65-70.
That goes down to about 30 mpg if you go 75-85 mph. So far this is all going up and down steep grades and a lot of curvy hwy ‘s.

Have not tested yet but guessing the 85-90 mph trip mileage to be in mid to upper 20’s range.
No real lack of power around town its very peppy at speeds below 55.

Alaa

Is the Tesla SAFEr than this car?

vdiv

Not to yer wallet it is not πŸ˜‰

Alaa

How much is ones life worth to you?

vdiv

Not much… 7 billion others and rapidly rising πŸ˜‰

ModernMarvelFan

Tesla Model S is safer than most cars….

M1 tanks is also safer than most cars.

A school Bus is also safer than Tesla. but I won’t drive a school bus to work, especially if it is a “short bus”….

Josh Bryant

Great article David!

I would add one negative to the Ford Style PHEV: driving experience. Going from my LEAF to my wife’s SUV with start/stop, I constantly get annoyed by the ICE transitions. I have talked to Volt owners that get annoyed when the ICE comes on, after they get used to EV mode. That surprised me as GM has the most seamless transition to date.

I have not driven either Energi product, so I can’t comment from experience. Any EV drivers driven an Energi for an extended period that can comment? Can anyone ping Lyle Dennis?

KeiJidosha

We have a C-Max Energi and Fit EV. You are correct that the pure EV driving experience is much better. But the C-Max takes care of our not infrequent 300+ mile trips, yet is all electric for weekly commute and errands. Cargo full-O-battery is good for Ford, but bad for utility. We would probably have bought the Chevy MPV5 if produced, or the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV if not delayed. C-Max was the best available option for our needs, but a trade-off not all will make.

Josh Bryant

Thanks for the comments.

I wish the Outlander had been to market quicker as well. We just replaced my wife’s CUV this spring (couldn’t wait any longer). I am hoping GM will have the MPV5 out in 3 – 5 years when we start looking for the next replacement.

Puzzlegal
I drive the C-Max Energi. It looks like there’s no cargo space, and that turned me off, but my husband really wanted a plug in vehicle, so we got it anyway. It turns out that because the car is so tall, it has plenty of cargo space for most purposes. It is enough for a full load of groceries, or for luggage for two for a week (or luggage for three if you put down one of the seats, leaving you room for 3 people and their gear.) It can hold a bicycle if you pop off the wheels. I’m actually thrilled with how well it drives. The Prius is so soggy, but this is a fun car. I still miss my old Civic (may it rest in peace) and especially miss the civic’s turning radius, but I don’t mind the ICE transitions at all — mostly it stays in electric mode until the battery runs down, except you can get an extra boost as you accelerate onto the interstate. As for the range, that’s worked out very well. The all-electric range is enough for all of our regular commuting and shopping needs, and the gas tank means the car… Read more »
George Bower

Good article David. Interesting bio also.

The deeper we get into this the more I think that Tesla’s approach is the way to go. Heck for a while I thought maybe the Volt’s battery was too big but now it seems the other way around. These hybrid plug ins just don’t cut it in my book. As a Volt owner I can say I want MORE AER. I want MORE acceleration. In order to do this you need less weight. The quickest and easiest way to get less weight is to shit can the range extender.

Believe it or not, If I could, I would trade my Volt for a Spark EV. Yes I might be disappointed but one guy on the forum has both a Volt and a Spark and he actually likes the Spark BETTER.

Spec

Yeah, once it get used to pure electric drive it is annoying to drive a gas car with that noise, uneven acceleration, stinky exhaust, etc. The Volt is definitely the better way to go for many since they need the long range. But if you have a reasonable commute and don’t do long trips regularly . . . go pure electric.

Puzzlegal

Unless you sometimes take long road trips. Then, going all-electric means you either need a second fuel-efficient vehicle, or you spend a ton on gas when you travel, or you travel VERY SLOWLY, and plan all your re-fueling in advance. Yeah, if you are an electric car fanatic, you might be willing to go for that last one, but for the typical consumer that’s a terrible trade-off. The gas tank and the range it provides means this can be your only small, efficient car.

ModernMarvelFan

Well, duh..

SparkEv is faster than the Volt. It has more torque off the line. Everyone likes a better performing car….

Spec

With the current tax-credit you are better off with a Volt-style PHEV since the tax-credit pretty much pays for the battery. When that credit goes away, 20 miles PHEVs will make more sense.

Anthony Fiti

Exactly. The tax credit is about $470 per kWh. If the total price (cell + pack + integration) of the marginal kWh is below this price, then it makes sense to make the battery bigger.

My hope is that the tax credit hangs around long enough that packs that provide 20 miles AER are small enough and cheap enough to integrate into cars the way hybrid battery packs are now. I don’t know if it’ll happen in time – cramming 7.5kWh into something that size and weight would need a 5x improvement over the NiMH cells found in most regular hybrids.

Spec

Yup. At $470/KWH, the tax-credit pays for the battery so why not go with the full 16KWH. Someone should build a PHEV with a 16KWH battery and a very small ICE which could get about 55 miles electric range and then go to gasoline. It would get the full tax-credit, have a great electric range that would cover some 80% of daily driving, and a gas engine for the rest. That is the sweet spot.

Lindsay Patten

The i3 is pretty close to that.

Tom A.

Options are good, but mediocre designs (lost cargo space) and significant price premiums are not.

If these things get people to experience electric drive, then great.

My next car will be a Tesla.

Eric Cote

I think a 20 mile Voltec PHEV as an SUV could do well, like the MPV5 concept using the Volt’s battery.

Ford’s PHEV’s are nice, but they’re still a milder form of Voltec. I think a solution that lets you use the battery for the first 20 miles, regardless of speed/acceleration (like what the Volt offers), is really the way to go.

JMHO.

Ocean Railroader

I wish my truck had that ability to plug in with 20 miles of range in that it uses a gallon of gas for 15 miles of travel and I only drive it on short local eight to ten mile trips. You would at least be saving a gallon of gas a local trip.

Guy A
I too would like to see a Voltec CUV offered (as an option) with half the battery of the Volt. For the general public that makes the most sense, as most people do a significant amount of their commute cruising on freeways. Very few people drive more than 20 miles in stop and go or urban traffic, which is when the AER mode gives the most benefit.the majority. A smaller battery also means a lighter car, which means a smaller engine or better performance/economy from the same engine. More importantly, the smaller battery really cuts down the perceived hassle involved in buying a PEV, while also minimizing the MSRP sticker shock and being the most viable when subsidies expire. While the Volt rarely needs an L2 charger, a PHEV with a 20-mile battery would NEVER need one to get a full charge overnight. And as others have mentioned, using half the battery should allow five seats for the people who need it (I don’t), unlike the Volt. But you can’t do it the way Ford did and eat up all the cargo space. The most appropriate advertising slogan for the C-Max Energi? “The car that takes the ‘U’ out of… Read more »
Puzzlegal

?? You can use the battery for the first 20 miles of driving the C-Max if you want. Even if you put it in “default” mode, that’s what it will do if you don’t need any strong acceleration. Pretty much the only time the gas engine kicks when I drive it it when I am on a highway, and mostly only to merge and accelerate on the highway at high speeds. If I’m just tootling around under 50mph, it stays all-electric whether I tell it to or not.

Ocean Railroader
This was the first plug in car I saw on the road. Oddly it and the plug in Prius are now in trouble with the fact that Chevy cut the price of the volt by $5000 dollars which puts the starting price of the volt a $1000 below this car starting price even before the larger tax break. On top of it and almost has double the range. And the builders of the volt seem fairly aggressive in that I was the one on this website who mentioned the $5000 dollar price cut as fairly aggressive and didn’t expect them to do that. The good news out of all of this is that if it has a smaller battery pack and the costs of batteries are falling all across the board then it might not be out of the question to drop the price of the C Max from the $32,000 before the tax break to $27,000 before the tax breaks they might have a good chance of gaining more market share from the Prius and other existing gas cars. Or they could be extremely aggressive and make the plug in feature standard on all of their C max hybrids… Read more »
Spec

The PiP has always been a bit silly since it has such a small battery when the government is providing money to cover the cost of a larger battery. But the Prius fans still buy it.

Ocean Railroader

I really think something like the PiP could easily be made into a standard feature on the main stream Prius in that most likely it using the existing batteries from the same Prius. In that there are several internet videos converting existing Prius into plug ins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtfWDo_IclQ So most likely most of the pieces are already inside the existing Prius models to make it a plug in.

drpawansharma

i do not agree with you, i think more AER, the merrier. in fact i think for pure BEVs – tesla way is the best, for plugin hybrids- earlier volt was the best but now BMW i3 is a better approach.

ModernMarvelFan

i3 REx can’t sustain in the long distance driving. It is REx is NOT designed for long hill climb. It doesn’t have mountain mode. That is why BMW provides you with a “free weekend loaner” for long trips…

Dennis

No comments on these cars with small batteries hogging chargers. We know that people can sometimes be inconsiderate, that combined with small batteries and a limited charging network is a problem in my book. I saw a Volt “using” our one local charger the other day, plugged in, not charging.

kdawg

I have seen EV’s parked at charging spots and not even plugged in! Even worse I saw some standard Prius’s parked in charging spots.

VoltOwner

And I see Volts, Leafs and Teslas parked at the old AvCon and Small Paddle charging stations all the time, it’s impossible for them to charge, but they still sit there blocking the chargers.

Carl
Nice Article. You should go test drive a C-MAX energi just to see how it drives. I traded in a Ford Escape Hybrid (2007) for my C-MAX Energi (2013). I think the cost is not an issue. One of my pet peeves about cost comparisons, is that the PHEVs (with loaded options) are compared against a stripped down ICE version of the same model, or sometimes compared against a lower class of car all together. And then the claim is that you will not make up the cost of the battery in fuel cost savings for several years. Unfortunately, these claims are misleading since the cost of non-battery options like a Nav system are included in the cost of the battery addition. (I recouped the battery cost in 4 months.) In April of 2013, I did a comparison of the price I would have to pay for a 2013 Ford Escape, 2013 CMAX, and 2013 CMAX Energi. All SEL trim level with the same options (Nav, panoramic room, prem audio). The final price is the Ford X-plan price less the tax incentives (CA & Fed) and less any Ford discounts. Here’s the rundown: Ford Escape SEL 2013, Price: $29,475 (MSRP… Read more »
kdawg

I didn’t know the Cmax Energi had that small of a trunk space. I’ve looked at it at the car shows, and sat in the car, but I guess until you need to put stuff in, it doesn’t sink in. I also play hockey and my bag & two sticks easily fits in my Volt cargo area. I could actually fit 2 hockey bags. You’re not a goalie by chance? πŸ™‚

Joseph Bonham
While there are many true points in the above article, I have the opposite view. We just leased a Ford Focus EV after looking at the C-Max, and traded in our Mazda5. 1) The all electric has much more power and pick up than the gas engines I’ve driven, not less. It actually reminds me of the turbo I drove as a teenager. Which makes me wonder at the wisdom of purposfully making the EV mode in PHEVs so sluggish. It’s like saying, “Here’s this awesome motor, but don’t have any fun with it, and don’t enjoy it.” 2) Virtually no maintance. While having both a gas engine and an electric motor gives versitility, you also get the negative costs of a gas engine. Other than tire rotations, our first maintenance is at 150K! No oil changes, no transmission gears to grind down. This alone explains why the automotive industry hesitates to embrace this model. Theoretically, in 10-15 years when it needs a new battery, I could install a better battery and have an essencially new car for $3K-$5K. 3) If I can plug my EV at any standard outlet over night, and rapid charge in many locations, why have… Read more »
Gary

I’m sorry to take exception, but the Focus EV is not “an EV that’s purpose built”. If it were a purpose built EV, it wouldn’t have the battery shoe-horned anywhere Ford could fit it in to the already existing Focus ICE chassis.

kdawg

I feel the same way as you Joseph, but I need a 200 mile BEV for *me* to make the leap. Hopefully 2016 is the year.

Spec

Cargo area is not much of a problem. Yeah, they should design them better so they don’t eat up so much cargo room. But generally, people don’t need much cargo room and if you really need it for a trip then use a roof rack.

Alaa

These cars are a death trap compred to a Tesla.

pjwood

I think consumers are a ways from understanding PHEV fuel math. So, for me to say that batteries at half the Volt’s size make, well, less than half the economic sence would be stretching what is really behind the sales numbers.

Economically, as folks of a given income but different 20 mile driving patterns go looking, the whole idea of having fuel-economy on the priority list just sinks. Throw a drivetrain premium on that and I think there’s a point where PHEV matters much less.

Anyone have a link to the NHTSA study showing “80% of drivers going <40 a day"? That should help predict things. I'd be interested in the distribution's tighntness, at the median.

kdawg

I don’t have a link to a study but here’s a couple graphs I found a couple years ago (can’t remember where from πŸ™ )

Priusmaniac

I think your graph is for bicycles, or some other kind of vehicles, not cars. For instance I drive 75 miles 200 days a year and I see no place where it fit in even in the highest quarter.

pjwood

kdawg, I know you aren’t likely to read my thanks for this, but wanted to circle back over my continued search for this data, and recognize that it comes up in google searches. I’m sure it amounts to simply finding the correct link, but the top left graphical set does seem to match the “80% going <=40mi", if one eyeballs, then sums, the area below 50 miles.

If I don't get something better, manually recreating this graph as one would show a fatter tail than Voltstats shows, for instance. The fourth, longest driving, quartile really hits near the 60 daily mile median. What this tells me, in conjunction with what cold climates do to range, is that a higher range EREV will in fact meet both a perceived and actual need.

The marginal bennefit from paying for kwh's of storage is all about this distribution. Thanks, again.

Pete D
I just bought a Volt 3 weeks ago. I looked very seriously at the Fusion Energi. Good looking car, 5 seats instead of 4. But then I test drove the Volt and it was an easy decision, for the reasons mentioned in the article above. -$7500 Tax Credit versus half of that, PLUS $4K from the State of IL, so $11,500 versus $3750. Huge difference! -38 miles versus 21, also a huge difference. I took a trip that burned some gas, but in day-to-day use around home, I have yet to burn a drop of gas. (I don’t have a commute really, I work from home when I am not traveling, and when I travel I take a car service to the airport, so the Volt works GREAT for me, I will hardly ever burn gas.) The Fusion at 21 miles, I would be burning gas quite a bit weekly. Also the Fusion handled like your grandfather’s Buick, the suspension was so soft! The Volt on the other hand is very sporty (and I come from a history of owning BMWs, Audis and Porsches, I am very picky when it comes to handling and feel), corners and handles great. In… Read more »
Puzzlegal

Which cars make economic sense is very sensitive to your regular driving patterns. Our regular daily driving is less than 20 miles, but we drive long distances with some frequency. So the C-Max, which meets our daily needs and is reasonably efficient for long-haul driving, is a good fit. If our regular daily driving was greater, the Volt would make more sense, despite the lower mileage on long-haul trips. But for our driving pattern, we use less total gas with the C-Max.

The Prius has even better long-haul efficiency, but doesn’t have enough electric range to meet our regular daily needs. But if the commute was 4 miles instead of 8, it might have been a good choice.

New Yorker

Does the Fusion Energi come in AWD?

kdawg
” in most cases you can drive away in a Volt for about the same price as a C-Max Energi” —— Actually much less. After tax credits: Volt = $27,495 Cmax = $29,200 and for comparison Fusion Energi = $34,950 Prius Plugin = $29,500 As battery prices continue to drop, 20 mile PHEV’s (and even less AER ones) will continue to make even less sense. BMW did at least one thing right with the i3, they focused more on the AER and less on the range extender. Smaller AER PHEV’s are going to require more robust RE’s. Like Dave, I too have a shorter commute, ~25 miles RT. I couldn’t quite make it in a 20 mile PHEV, but I also live in a cold winter state, Michigan. This means the AER’s can drop by 1/2 in the winter, reducing my Volt’s AER to 24 miles. If I had a 20-mile PHEV, in the winter it would only be 10 or 12 miles and I would be using a lot more gas. Also talking about driving habits, on weekends I regularly make trips over 40 miles. This causes me to use some gas in my Volt. Automakers need to increase… Read more »
Spec

Seriously . . . the 20 mile PHEV makes no sense right now due to the tax-credit structure. Just go ahead and throw more battery in there. I think the car companies are crazy for not taking advantage of this. Especially Toyota with their illogical PiP which is wasting their 200K allotment of tax-credits foolishly.

Priusmaniac

The Ford Fusion energi has some advantages like seat five and a normal shape car.
Ford has taken the EV from the very low end with only 20 ev miles.
Perhaps if they bring that to 80 ev miles by increasing the battery size and content and by gaining place by shrinking the engine to fit more batteries, then yes a fusion could become interesting.
In the end they could come to an 80 miles EV fusion with Rex.

Dave K.

I agree with David Murray, I think the best thing about a PHEV w/20mile range is the average person won’t find it too different from their ICE car. It’s sort of “methadone for oil addiction” you don’t have to give up the gas pump completely all at once but you get most of the benefits of EV driving. I think another factor is 120V charging works well for these small packs, no need to commit to installing an expensive EVSE. But of course many of these people will go all the way with their next car, the benefits are so compelling.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Volt has better deals
Volt has higher tax credit.
Volt has more AER.
Volt has better EV performance.
PiP has better CS fuel economy.
PiP has more cargo space.
PiP has deals on the east coast (or for anyone who cares to ship).
Leaf has better deals.
Leaf has higher tax credit.
Leaf has full EV performance.
Low AER means lower percentage EV, unless you can charge at work and don’t drive on longer trips.
Ford has not promoted their PEVs.
Ford is perceived as not caring about EVs.

In short: because, well, meh.

All this talk about it’ll be different when the tax credit goes away misses three key points:
– if battery prices don’t fall by the time the tax credit is gone _all_ the mainstream PEV sales will be reduced and the cars will be withdrawn.
– if battery and other drivetrain component prices are still falling at the time the tax credit is gone, the incremental cost of capacity and performance will reduce and people will pay the extra to get PHEV instead than HEV+P.
– Tesla Gen 3 (or possibly 4 at the rate Ford is going).

Ian
There is a lot of skewing and biasing of reality in relation to tax credits, but if you think about it, the real issue is efficiency. If you want to kill range anxiety, you need a mega battery and the car is hauling that around from beginning to end and no matter what the SOC of the battery is. The reason battery power is so good is during stop-start driving and in acceleration and deceleration modes. The battery efficiently delivers and recovers power in acel/decel in which an ICE does not. Therefore if we get back to first principles and realise an ICE is ideal for 1) Steady state cruising and 2) Giving range without the weight penalty. So just having battery oomph for range, better to have a highly efficient engine (Prius uses the Atkinson cycle engine), I am blowed if I know why a diesel-hybrid has not appeared since it seems like a logical step given the very high efficiency of the diesel cycle. Finally the availability factor of having two power plants gives higher overall reliability and the extra power able to be tapped into offers a good benefit. I believe these are important additional factors in… Read more »
Mike Birtwistle
What I dont understand about electric vehicles is why they never designed a battery loading system whereby the entire battery can be swapped out in a few minutes with a fully charged one at a service station. Then the service station can recharge the depleted batteries overnight during off peak times, faulty batteries can be replaced using an established supply chain and it will reduce the peak load on the national grid. I’m worried what will happen in 10 years from now if every household starts drawing an additional 10 kwh per day from the grid to recharge their cars. Have they factored THAT into our countries energy needs? I have just invested in a solar PV array. What I need is a charge that draws a low current (say 1-2kw) over a long period of time to recharge my car – i.e. i need a SLOWER recharge time so my PV array can cope with the load and I don’t draw from the grid while charging. Or ideally a car charger that works with an IMMERSUN type controller that matches my surplus generation to the charging load (by switching the car charger on an off very quickly several times… Read more »
Earl Chase
I own a 2013 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium. I do wish it had more EV range than the 20+ miles (I have gotten as high as 26 miles). However, for me most other EV’s on the market would not work in my situation except the Volt (technically a PHEV). I work 2 miles from home 2 days a week and 99 miles 1 day a week. I also live 45 miles from the closet major metropolitan center. So, the Telsa Model S would be the only BEV solution. However, I am not prepared to spend that kind of money for a car. When comparing the Volt to the Fusion, we are a family of five so the Volt I could not carrying my entire family. The C-Max versus the Fusion, the Fusion is just a better looking car. Additionally, the Fusion Energi Titanium is loaded with tech. It has many tech and safety features found in more expensive cars such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Active Lane Assist and the list goes on. Even with the 20+ EV range and my commute I am averaging 45 to 60 mpg. This is a great car if you can get… Read more »
systemBuilder
We live only 3 miles from work where there is FREE CHARGING, but at the end of the day, our battery capacity is only 40% because getting home (3 miles) + driving our kids to swim practice (10 miles round-trip) eats up most of the 22-mile battery capacity in our 2017 Ford Fusion. With incredible blowout prices on 2017 models ($5500 discount) and the federal discount ($4007) and some dealer love, ours cost $28,800, including all leasing and purchase fees. We love the car – but – trying to scrounge-up a parking space with a charger at work is a hassle, and it’s also a hassle to be charging the car EVERY OTHER DAY (My wife and I take turns driving the car). Even if you have a Tesla model 3, you should only run the battery from 25%-75% to maximize battery life, which is 150 miles of range, which means you are filling up the car with electricity TWICE AS OFTEN as you are filling up a gasoline-engined car. Still, it was amazing to go 760 miles in our Ford Fusion before we bought OUR FIRST tank of gas (we ran ~560 on the dealer’s tank and 200 on… Read more »