Ford dropping C-Max in U.S.
Ford will end production of the slow- selling C-Max Hybrid in mid-2018.
DETROIT — The Ford C-Max has run out of juice.
U.S. production ended in September for the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and will conclude in mid-2018 for the C-Max Hybrid, wrapping up a six-year run for a once-promising nameplate that was doomed by sluggish electrified vehicle demand and overstated fuel economy claims.
Ford will continue to produce and sell gasoline and diesel versions of the C-Max in Europe “for a number of years,” a spokesman said.
Ford’s confirmation ends years of speculation that the brand’s worst-selling mass-market nameplate would disappear from U.S. dealerships.
Ford had said it would end C-Max and Focus compact car production at Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., in 2018 as it makes room for the Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV. It announced plans to build the next-generation Focus in China but never confirmed whether it would move the C-Max.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader, said a number of market factors worked against the C-Max, including low gasoline prices and a consumer shift toward crossovers and SUVs.
“It’s a car in a market that wants SUVs — and not many people want hybrids,” she said. “It was one of the most heavily discounted cars in that segment, and that still didn’t move the needle. It had so many strikes against it.”
Some of those strikes were self-inflicted.
See ya, C-Max
- 2011: Even before C-Max sales begin, Ford cancels its plan to offer a 7-passenger version with sliding doors, deciding to bring only the 5-passenger hybrid and plug-in hybrid to the U.S. from Europe.
- 2012: U.S. sales begin in September and top 4,000 a month in November and December — a level they never reach again.
- 2013: Annual U.S. sales peak at 35,210. In August, Ford lowers the C-Max Hybrid’s combined fuel economy rating to 43 mpg from 47 mpg and gives owners checks of up to $550.
- 2014: In June, Ford again drops the C-Max Hybrid combined fuel economy rating, this time to 40 mpg, and cuts more checks. Annual U.S. sales fall to 27,595.
- 2015: Ahead of UAW contract talks, Ford says it will move C-Max and Focus production to outside the U.S. from Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018, with lower-wage Mexico believed to be the destination. U.S. C-Max sales fall 21%, to 21,768, in what was then a record year for the industry.
- 2016: U.S. C-Max sales drop to 19,834, falling behind the Flex to become the Ford brand’s worst-selling mass-market U.S. nameplate.
- 2017: C-Max Energi plug-in-hybrid production ends.
- 2018: C-Max Hybrid production is scheduled to end when Michigan Assembly switches to building the Ranger pickup.
Ford originally promised an eye-catching fuel economy rating of “47/47/47” for the C-Max Hybrid — that is, 47 mpg in city, highway and combined driving.
But it lowered those claims twice after consumers and the EPA questioned them.
Ford paid owners hundreds of dollars apiece to make up for the errant mileage claims, and revamped its C-Max marketing strategy to focus less on fuel economy.
Service and replacement parts for the C-Max will be available for years to come, a Ford spokesman said.
Despite the death of the C-Max, Ford said it remains committed to electrification. In January, the company said that over the next five years, it plans to add 13 electrified models — including hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150 in 2020 — as part of a $4.5 billion investment.
The automaker also created a group called “Team Edison” to study and develop electric vehicles.
Last month, executives said they would add EVs in the next decade but offered no details. a