Dealers drawn to Energi
Retailers line up to sell Ford's plug-in hybrids
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. is surprised by how many dealers are seeking approval to sell its first plug-in hybrid, the C-Max Energi -- and in which markets.
Ford dealers have sold hybrids since 2004, when the Escape Hybrid arrived. Today, all Ford dealers can sell the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and 2013 Fusion Hybrid.
But dealers must be certified to sell the C-Max Energi, Fusion Energi and Focus Electric. The Focus Electric, which went on retail sale in May, only sells in handfuls. But Ford is betting big that its Energi plug-in hybrids will achieve much higher sales.
More than 200 dealers in about 25 states are certified to sell electrified vehicles, and 700 more are seeking certification -- far exceeding Ford's expectations of 350.
Those who qualify will be ready to open after Jan. 1, when the Fusion Energi joins the lineup. By then, Ford expects to have certified dealers in all 50 states.
Ford believed that its electrified vehicles initially would have more appeal in cities. But C.J. O'Donnell, Ford marketing manager for electrified vehicles, said dealer interest in getting certified is perking up at dealerships outside cities on the coasts.
"They see broader appeal and we're going to try to leverage that," he said during an interview at the Energi launch here.
On electric power only, the C-Max Energi can travel 21 miles and hit a top speed of 85 mph, Ford says. The vehicle has just begun shipping to certified dealerships.
One selling point will be the C-Max Energi's $3,750 federal tax credit -- more than the $2,500 on the Toyota Prius Plug-in. The C-Max Energi has 7.6-kilowatt-hour battery while the Prius has a 4.4-kilowatt-hour battery, and the tax credit rises with battery capacity.
The C-Max Energi's sticker price is $33,745, with shipping. Minus the tax credit, that's $29,995.
The Prius Plug-in's sticker price is $32,760, with shipping. Subtract its tax credit, and the price is $30,260.
C-Max Energi buyers get a five-year subscription to use the MyFord Mobile App for smartphones, which enables customers to remotely monitor the charging status of their vehicle batteries, warm up their vehicle interior in advance, find charging stations and set overnight charging times.
You can reach Bradford Wernle at email@example.com.