DEARBORN, MI – Ford says it will market the all-new ’13 C-Max as a multi-activity vehicle when it arrives in the U.S. this fall, despite the fact most North Americans have never heard of the designation that is well-established in European markets.

Amy Machesney, C-Max marketing manager, says promoting the MAV marque makes sense given the car’s attributes.

“A MAV brings efficiency and utility, and the C-Max has a lot of cargo space and passenger versatility,” she tells WardsAuto at a media event here. “It’s going to appeal to people with active lifestyles, so MAV describes that.”

Even so, Machesney admits the MAV designation is unlikely to resonate with North American consumers, which is why the C-Max also will be referred to in marketing as a hybrid-utility vehicle.

The C-Max MAV will be offered as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, dubbed Energi. The vehicle will mark Ford’s first offering that is available only in electrified versions, making it a perfect candidate to go up against the Toyota Prius, Machesney says.

“There are not a lot of hybrids out there,” she says. “Prius is one of the only choices, so as we launch this vehicle people want to know what value it brings and how it compares to the competition.”

Referring to Ford policy, Machesney declines to reveal volume expectations for the C-Max but notes the auto maker expects most consumers will opt for the hybrid version rather than the PHEV.

Going up against the Prius will be no easy task given its dominance of the hybrid segment. Previous Ford hybrid vehicles have sold in much smaller numbers.

Through May, Prius deliveries totaled 91,300 units, while the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids, together, only sold 3,973, according to WardsAuto data.

Pricing for the C-Max will be competitive with Prius, with the hybrid starting at $25,995, including delivery and destination fees. Pricing for the C-Max Energi PHEV will be announced closer to launch, the auto maker says.

In comparison, the original Prius starts at $24,000, the smaller Prius C begins at $18,950 and the larger Prius V stickers at $26,550.

“The C-Max hybrid is a little bigger than (the) Prius but smaller than (the) Prius V, so it fits right in between their lineup, and Energi will go up against the Prius PHEV,” Machesney says, noting Ford may refer to the Prius in its marketing campaign.

“But the main thing we want to focus on is, for people who want a green vehicle, this is a car with great vehicle economy and real-car performance,” she says.

Ford says the C-Max hybrid will achieve 47 mpg (5.0 L/100 km) in the city. That’s less than the original Prius’ 51/48 mpg (4.6-4.9 L/100 km) city/highway rating, but better than the Prius V’s 44/40 mpg (5.3-5.8 L/100 km).

Fuel-economy figures for the C-Max Energi have not been released, nor has its electric-only range. But Machesney says the plug-in will be able to travel 500 miles (805 km) when fully fueled and charged.

The C-Max hybrid will launch this fall, followed by the C-Max Energi about a month later, Ford says. Both vehicles initially will be sold at the 67 Ford dealerships in California, New York and New Jersey that have been certified to sell the Focus electric vehicle, Machesney says. Plans call for a full nationwide rollout at a later date.

In order to be certified to sell Ford’s electrified vehicles, dealers must satisfy a list of requirements, including:

  • Have two charging stations at the dealership – one in the customer area and the other in the service area.
  • Have at least one Focus EV available at all times for demonstrations and events.
  • Eighty percent of staff members must meet specific EV training certification requirements, including advanced knowledge of electrification.
  • Each showroom must have point-of-purchase display materials, including digital assets and window signage.
  • Participate in a Ford Go Green Dealer Onsite Facility Assessment to identify energy and cost-saving opportunities, with a goal of facilitating energy efficiency, lowering operating expenses and reducing its carbon-footprint.

bpope@wardsauto.com