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Ford schedules entrance to E.V. market in 2012

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid with inset Ford's leaf...

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The automobile giants Toyota and Ford unveiled their new entries into the hybrid electric vehicle market at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.

Ford’s C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid will hit the North American market in 2012 with the C-MAX Energi touted as the company’s pioneer venture into the production plug-in hybrid market.

Meanwhile, Toyota unveiled three new models of their Prius hybrid line to enter the markets in 2011 and 2012.

Pioneer plug-in hybrid

The Ford claims its C-MAX Energi can provide more than 500 miles of overall driving range through the combined electric-gasoline drivetrain – more than any other plug-in or extended-range electric vehicle in the market.

The C-MAX Energi has an electric drivetrain comprised of an electric traction motor powered by a high-voltage lithium-ion battery. This will be combined with a high-efficiency Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine to achieve optimum fuel efficiency.

By design, this five-seater will operate in charge-depletion mode upon startup to provide all-electric driving range.

Once the battery is drained or specific conditions are met, the vehicle transitions to charge-sustaining hybrid mode. To recharge, the vehicle can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet.

“A plug-in hybrid owner may make fewer trips to the pump to refuel because of its all-electric mode capability,” said Derrick Kuzak, vice president of global product development at Ford.

“Conveniently, they’ll be able to recharge their plug-in hybrid at home overnight. And they’ll never have to think about the vehicle’s electric range, because the plug-in hybrid seamlessly shifts to fuel power when needed,” he added.

The company plans to achieve Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle status for the C-MAX Energi, classifying it as a vehicle that uses innovative technologies to limit tailpipe emissions.

Hybrid variant

The C-MAX Hybrid, builds on the powersplit architecture developed by Ford where the electric motor and gasoline engine can work together or separately to maximize efficiency. This design allows the vehicle to operate in fuel-saving electric mode up to 47 miles per hour.

This hybrid variant is targeted to provide better fuel economy than the Ford Fusion Hybrid which covers 41 miles for each gallon of gasoline consumed.

According to Ford, the C-MAX Energi and C-MAX Hybrid models will be manufactured along with the 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric at its assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan. The vehicles will eventually reach Europe in 2013.

Expanding the Prius Brand

Toyota also revealed its hand at the 2011 North American International Auto Show with the addition of three more versions of its flagship hybrid vehicle Prius.

The Japanese automaker revealed the Prius V, Prius C and Prius Plug-In on Monday, expanding its Prius brand to four hybrid electric vehicles.

The Prius V and Prius C will use the same platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology featured in the current Prius. Both will offer four driving modes namely Normal, Power, Eco and Electric Vehicle.

However, the vehicles cater to two different customer classes. The Prius V has a wider, more spacious design that would be more appealing to young, active families. The Prius C, on the other hand, is aimed to attract young singles and couples with its compact city-centric design.

The Prius Plug-in adds electric vehicle driving capability through a battery-powered electric drivetrain.

This version can run on battery power for approximately 13 miles at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Once the battery is depleted, the Plug-in functions like the third generation Prius.

Its lithium ion battery needs only to be plugged for three hours on a 110-volt outlet or 1.7 hours on a 220-volt outlet to completely recharge.

The Prius V is scheduled to enter the market in the summer of 2011 while the Prius C and Prius Plug-in will be available in 2012.

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