California’s gas prices are slowly trending downward after exceeding $5 a gallon in some cities, but residents who commute long distances and want unrestricted access to HOV (carpool) lanes have another option. This week Ford Motor’s C-MAX Energi scored approval for the Golden State’s Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker under the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. For EV fans disappointed in the on-again, off-again, on-and-off-again trials of the Chevy Volt, Ford’s C-MAX Energi could spark renewed enthusiasm for plug-in hybrid cars.
Ford touts the C-MAX Energi, the company’s first plug-in hybrid automobile, as another groundbreaking vehicle sans the conventional internal combustion engine for both its range and miles-per-gallon equivalent rating: 108 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 92 on the highway.
The C-MAX Energi also achieves up to 21 miles in all-electric range. Ford points out that for the average worker’s commuting distance, the all-electric range the C-MAX Energi offers is enough for drivers to drive one direction between work and home without hitting the gas pedal. In fact, Ford positions the C-MAX Energi as an option to drive long distances without worrying about a recharge: the company claims its generous MGP allows drivers to travel between cities such as Denver and Kansas City . . . or New York and Detroit.
So what does the C-MAX Energy announcement mean for commuters?
Buyers of the C-MAX Energi could score as much as $5,250 in rebates. Californians who buy or sign a 36-month lease for the car receive a $1,500 tax rebate; add the federal tax credit and the result, according to Ford, is the most cost-effective plug-in hybrid at just under $28,500. That price, of course, does not include the cost of installing a charging station at one’s residence that would allow the car to recharge quickly overnight. Plus the C-MAX Energi performs well on the road: its 195-horsepower engine with a full battery charge gives the car heft on the streets. New Ford technologies such as a hands-free liftgate and automated active park assist could also make the purchase of the car a tempting prospect.
Detroit’s resurgence the past year has been an exciting one to watch, and it is refreshing to see the automakers experiment with new automobile technologies that could transform the way we commute. So much of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles’ future rests upon consumer acceptance and an infrastructure that can support alternative-powered cars. With the C-MAX Energi’s upcoming release, we should start seeing a trend where plug-in vehicles and their cousins converge upon conventional automobiles and trucks in both performance and cost.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter.
Image courtesy Ford Motor.