Ford C-Max and Ford Vertrek

Ford C-Max and Ford Vertrek

Ford Motor Co. is getting into the hybrid and electric game in a big way. The company already has three hybrids and an electric vehicle on the market, and at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Blue Oval showed three more, all slated for production within two years. Highlighting the list is the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, which is due by the end of 2011, followed by hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of its C-Max hatchback.

Also on display are two fuel-efficient gas-powered models, both riding the new Focus platform: the 7-passenger C-Max, a starter minivan headed to showrooms by the end of 2012; and the Vertrek Concept, a thinly disguised replacement for the Escape, with styling suspiciously similar to the European Ford Kuga.

More coverage from the Detroit Auto Show

2012 Ford Focus Electric

Click to enlarge pictureFord Focus Electric (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford Focus Electric

Click to enlarge pictureFord Focus Electric (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford Focus Electric

What is it? A battery-electric version of the compact Focus.
What makes it special? Ford currently offers an electric version of its Transit Connect commercial van, but the Focus Electric will be the company's first electric passenger car. Offered in the hatchback body style, it will be powered by a 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery spinning a traction motor that makes the equivalent of 123 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Ford isn't quoting a range, but it should be about 100 miles. Ford does say the Focus Electric will charge in three to four hours on a 240-volt outlet and 18 to 20 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet. Inside, the Focus Electric will feature a smart gauge that draws butterflies as drivers exceed the standard electric range. It will also come standard with the MyFord Touch entertainment and communications system, HD radio, a Sony audio system and a navigation system.
When will it be available? Late 2011.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? The Focus Electric won't be the first electric car to the market, so it will need to stand out for other reasons. Ford says it will ride and handle like a regular Focus, which will certainly help. Pricing and range are two other factors that could make the Focus Electric succeed.

View Pictures:  Ford at the Detroit Show

2012 Ford C-Max Hybrid

What is it? A hybrid version of European people mover.
What makes it special? The Ford C-Max is a 5-passenger vehicle that combines elements of a hatchback, a crossover and a minivan, much like the Kia Rondo. Based on Ford's new, global C-segment platform, which hosts the Focus, it is now available in Europe and will be heading to the U.S. The first vehicle with the next generation of Ford's power-split hybrid technology, it will be able to drive up to 47 mph on electric power alone. Ford is aiming for fuel economy better than the current Fusion Hybrid's 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway.
When will it be available? Early 2012.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? Ford shares the basic design of its hybrid technology with Toyota, but the C-Max manages to eke out better fuel economy. We look forward to further improvement. The C-Max design, which is basically a minivan without the sliding side doors, hasn't worked for the Kia Rondo, but Ford's added exposure could help.

Bing: Ford C-Max

2012 Ford C-Max Energi

Click to enlarge pictureFord C-Max Energi (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford C-Max Energi

Click to enlarge pictureFord C-Max Energi (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford C-Max Energi

What is it? Ford's first plug-in hybrid, aimed at the Chevrolet Volt.
What makes it special? Ford is planning to offer a wide variety of fuel-efficient vehicles, ranging from standard gasoline cars to full electrics. The C-Max Energi fits in the middle as the company's first plug-in hybrid. Ford says it will be able to drive in three modes: full electric; blended electric and gas engine; and standard hybrid mode like the power-split system used in current Ford hybrids. The company is quoting a range of more than 500 miles and says the Energi will deliver better charge-sustaining fuel efficiency than the Chevrolet Volt. Ford isn't quoting plug-in range, but we expect it to be in the 25- to 50-mile range like the Volt.
When will it be available? 2012.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? We're not certain that the distinctly European C-Max body style will catch on, but the Energi version could be a hit if it can truly deliver on Ford's promises of a 500-mile range and better fuel economy than the Chevy Volt.

Read:  Driving Electric

2012 Ford C-Max (7-Passenger)

Click to enlarge pictureFord Grand C-Max (© Richard Dredge - Microsoft/Magic Car Pics)

Ford Grand C-Max

Click to enlarge pictureFord Grand C-Max (© Richard Dredge - Microsoft/Magic Car Pics)

Ford Grand C-Max

What is it? A starter minivan similar to the Mazda Mazda5.
What makes it special? Like its 5-passenger sibling, the 7-passenger model will ride the Focus' global C-segment platform, but this one is 5.5 inches longer, comes with sliding side doors, and has five-plus-two seating with a small third-row seat. It will offer two engines: a turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder making 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with similar power numbers. Unique features will include a hands-free power rear liftgate activated by waving your leg under the rear bumper and a second-row center seat that folds into the right-hand seat beside it.
When will it be available? 2012.
How much will it cost? To be determined.
MSN Autos' take? We like the maneuverability and small but useful size of the Mazda5 and look forward to Ford offering a competitor. If the global C-segment platform handles as well as we expect, the 7-passenger C-Max could be a fun-to-drive minivan alternative for small families.

Bing Images: Ford Grand C-Max

Ford Vertrek Concept

Click to enlarge pictureFord Vertrek Concept (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford Vertrek Concept

Click to enlarge pictureFord Vertrek Concept (© Rod Hatfield)

Ford Vertrek Concept

What is it? A Ford Escape replacement.
What makes it special? Ford unveiled the Vertrek as a concept vehicle, but it looks awfully similar to the European Ford Kuga crossover. The Vertrek, which could be renamed Escape when it hits dealer showrooms late this year, rides the same global C-segment platform as the Focus and C-Max products, and it represents Ford's idea of what an athletic global small crossover would be. The concept has four sporty bucket seats and side cameras instead of mirrors, but the production version would certainly be more conventional. Ford hints that a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine could be in the offing, possibly with a start/stop feature. A diesel is likely as well, but probably for Europe only.
When will it be available? Late 2011.
How much will it cost? Starting at less than $20,000.
MSN Autos' take? Though the Ford Escape continues to sell well, it feels old, like a small SUV instead of a more modern crossover. If Ford is truly replacing it with this attractive crossover, then we say kudos. Better to offer a modern replacement than to let the previous model grow old on the vine.

Exhaust Notes Blog: Ford Plans for Life After Escape

Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.