Although Toyota has been hyping their new Prius MPV for months, Ford‘s announcement of not one, but two hybrid minivans is sure to take the wind out of Toyota's sails (no pun intended).
The C-Max Hybrid and Energi (Ford's name for the plug-in variant) will be 5-seaters only, and use a lithium-ion battery pack, considered to be the next generation of hybrid battery technology. The car will also be built at Ford's Wayne, Michigan plant, the first plant that will build electric and gasoline vehicles side by side.
The C-Max Energi will offer a number of interesting advantages; the ability to go 500 miles on a single tank of gas (the longest range for any plug-in), the chance to use HOV lanes with only a single occupant (in states such as California, where this is allowed) and fuel economy that bests the Fusion Hybrids 41/36 mpg rating. Ford also claims that the Energi will exceed the Fusion's EV-only speed of 47 mph.
Visually, the Hybrid and Energi are distinguished by subtle fender badges, with the Energi's charging port glowing upon connecting with a charging paddle. The Energi will be on sale in 2012, the same time as the Prius minivan. An interesting battle looks to be shaping up, with Ford's newly resurgent lineup taking on the name in hybrids.
More: Detroit 2011: Ford C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi Plug-In Hit Prius Square In The Junk
More on the 2010 Detroit Auto Show