DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. today takes the wraps off the C-Max Energi cross/utility vehicle, its first plug-in electric-hybrid vehicle at the North American International Auto Show here.

Based on the same underpinnings as the new global Ford Focus, the 5-passenger Energi is aimed at young families who appreciate the “combination of its flexibility, leading-edge technology and fuel economy,” says Mark Fields, Ford’s president-The Americas.

The C-segment is “all about giving consumers choices and not just one specific technology,” Fields tells Ward’s at a recent media event.

While Ford has operated PHEV test fleets for years, the Energi marks its first production-ready model. The vehicle goes on sale next year and is expected to have a combined gasoline/electric range of 500 miles (800 km), Fields says, which would make it “make it the largest range of any PHEV.”

The Energi’s Atkinson-cycle 2.0L 4-cyl. internal-combustion engine, paired with a permanent magnet electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, is expected to garner the plug-in Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle status, Ford says.

The auto maker has yet to reveal the Energi’s pure-electric range. The vehicle can be charged via a standard 120-volt household outlet overnight.

Fields says Ford is in position to learn a lot about consumer reaction to electrified vehicles, with the the Energi set to launch in 2012 and the Focus EV to go on sale later this year.

“Certainly, (they will be) customers that want to make a statement about preserving non-renewable energy resources and have the disposable income to do that,” he says, noting pricing will be announced at a later date.

To help manage the Energi’s systems, the auto maker plans to offer the “MyFord Mobile,” the same smartphone app Focus EV owners will receive free of charge for the first five years of ownership.

The app, compatible with iPhone, Blackberry and Android-based smartphones, provides users with a vast array of vehicle information, such as battery state-of-charge, range, distance to a charge point and expected range surplus.

Additional features include the driver’s ability to remotely lock/unlock car doors, locate his parked car via a built-in global-positioning system and post messages on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Joining the C-Max Energi on the stage at the show here is the Ford C-Max Hybrid, a vehicle the auto maker says will boast better fuel economy than the Ford Fusion Hybrid, which achieves 41 mpg (5.7 L/100 km) in the city. It also bests the Fusion Hybrid’s 47 mph (76 km/h) electric-only top speed, Ford says.

The auto maker has yet to announce official maximum velocity or fuel-economy numbers for the C-Max Hybrid. Both the C-Max Energi and Hybrid models will be built at Ford’s Wayne, MI, assembly plant.

bpope@wardsauto.com