Tuesday, January 10, 2012

20 Miles Electric Range : What does that mean ?

I've speculated on likely electric only range a couple of times. But now we have official word from Ford in a video that Fusion Energi has 20 to 21 miles of electric only range. It would be very surprising if C-Max Energi had a different range. So, what does that mean in terms of battery capacity, price and tax credit ?

Before we attempt to answer the question, we need to first figure out what kind of Electric Range is Ford refering to ? Is it the "100 miles" Nissan Leaf range (based on LA4 cycle), 40 miles range of Volt (based on, not really sure what), 160 mile range of 40 kWh Model S (based on 55 mph speed) or is it the likely EPA combined range ? The EPA combined range is about 30% lower for Leaf and 10% lower for Volt than their advertised range - 73 & 35 respectively.

So, what does the 20 mile range of Energi refer to ? If it is the unadjusted number, then the EPA range may come to be about 17 miles - going by what Volt achieved in the EPA tests. If it is the EPA number itself - like the mpg numbers Ford has been talking about - then the unadjusted number for Energi would be higher.

So, here are my estimates, taking these two scenarios into consideration. Secnario A assumes the 20 miles is the EPA range, which means the battery needs to be a little larger than if the EPA range is 17.

I've used Volt's 16 kWh for 40 miles to estimate the capacity of the battery that Energi will have. Using other vehicles like Leaf will yield slightly different results. But for estimating, this should suffice. With this method we get 8 or 9 kWh of battery capacity, which looks very likely. This would allow about 5 or 6 kWh of the battery to be actually used which would prolong the battery life.

The tax credit is calculated using this method I had quoted in an earlier blog post.
The basic credit, regardless of the cost of the EV, starts with a flat $2,500. From there, if the car is powered by a battery with a capacity of at least 5 kWh (kilowatt hours), you can add $417 to start, plus another $417 for each addition kWh of battery capacity above the 5 kWh base. However, the extra credit for battery capacity cannot exceed $5,000, so the maximum possible tax credit for an EV is $7,500.
I've used a simple method to guess the price this time. Take the C-Max Hybrid's estimated price - $26,000 - to keep it competitive with Prius v. Add $1,000 for each kWh of battery capacity. This is a very generous "value" for each kWh of battery I'm attaching and I've also not taken into account the 1.5 kWh or so of the battery the hybrid would already have. This would get us a post tax credit price around $30,000. If Ford is looking at this kind of price, it is likely to keep it just below $30,000, instead of just above it, for sure.

If Ford does price Energi at $30,000 - it will have a very strong position in the market and can possibly outsell all other plug-ins like GM Volt, Toyota Plug In Prius and Nissan Leaf.

Can Ford pull this off ?


  1. 20 Miles range means a serious disappointment from this perspective buyer, bummer. I was really hoping for 30 miles or better. 20 miles gets me part way through alot of my drives.

    About the only positive thing I can say is at least its a little greater range than the plug in Prius which is truly puny.

    1. @Sasparilla

      True - I was hoping for 30 too. The way I would put it is - if your daily commute is less than 20 miles (or if you can charge at office, less than 40 miles), then Energi will still be very effective in reducing the gas usage.

      Ideally I want a larger vehicle with more cargo space - and a good AER - like 40 miles. But as we see in Volt, a larger AER would result in too much of compromise in terms of space & price.

      I'll seriously look into leasing Energi, rather than buying it.

  2. Just saw this over on the NYTimes Detroit Show coverage - Ford expects the plug-in Energi to drive more than 15 miles on battery power alone....

    Looks like Ford went right for the Prius range (15 miles or so)....bummer. There's a downside here, for both Ford and Toyota, the only people wanting these plug in vehicles are people who want to plug them in and run them electric (with some range that justifies the extra cost). Neither the Prius Plug-in nor the Energi fit that range amount that I would want.

    JMHO, but when the electric only range gets down to this level, it starts to become a token value - to myself (and presumably other perspective plug customers) who would be buying this to run it electric - the folks that don't care too much won't want to pay the extra money for the token range in the first place. Hopefully Ford will sell a ton of them...15 miles is better than nothing...

  3. I am sad to read this about only 20 miles. If Ford prices these plugins with the same thinking as the Focus Electric then Sasparilla is correct. We will have just a "token range" electric that is at a price no one will want. I had high hopes Ford was going to be more creative in bringing electrics to market.
    I hope they realize the market is looking for a break thru and the first to deliver will be king of the hill. Prius is still king but has also left the door open to be overtaken by a serious competitor. Hopefully Ford will come around.

  4. I think maybe Ford will use more of the battery than GM's 65%. Look at the PiP. The battery Toyota is quoting 4.4 kwh. Let's assume the Pip gets the same miles/kwh as the Volt =2.9 mi/kwh. 15 miles quoted by Toyota will turn out to be high by at least 10% by the time the EPA gets done. So the calculated usable kwh for Pip would be 15X.9/2.9= 4.65 kwh. That says Toyota is using much higher percentage of the battery than GM's 65%.

    My point here is that Ford will probably use a higher percentage of their battery than GM. I would say 80-90%% vs GM's 65%. Both Toyota and Ford should have a more state of the art battery when it comes to cycle life than GM since they came into the game much later.

    So I would say that maybe we could see a battery just a little bigger than Toyota will be used in the Energy....say perhaps 5 kwh on the low side.

    This would put EVnow's price numbers down in the range of the Pip (32000$).

    It is EXTREMELY important that Ford equal or break Toyota's price on the plug in Prius. If you spend some time on Priuschat you will find already previous Pip enthusiasts not willing to pony up the 32K. Toyota may find the Pip as a hard sell at that price.

    I think the Volt is a great car. However it needs to be less $ and it needs more interior room to appeal to a larger audience. Ford has a chance to offer just such a vehicle with the C max energy!!

    1. I don't think Ford will use more than 80% of the battery - even BEVs don't do that. For EPA mileage we should look for something like 3.5 miles / kWh. This gets us to about 6 kWh (usable) or 7.5kWh total battery capacity. I think this is the minimum for a 20 mile range.

  5. I hope "George" is correct about Ford utilizing more of the battery power and it should be an improved generation by launch.
    Ford needs to see these posts about a good price point.
    The Toyota plugin at a 30k starting price is of no interest to me.
    I did some research about the Volt's capabilities and was impressed. But when they announced a 40K price it appeared they were not interested in generating high early interest in that car. It was time for me to move on.
    If Ford prices its plugins affordably I firmly believe the market will come alive and plugin hybrids, especially Ford products, will become a valid option for a new generation of fuel efficient low emission vehicles.
    The car with the better price for performance and range will be my next vehicle.
    At this time I am betting Ford will come through.

  6. Heads up ford has their c-max web site up. Not much new info or specs. It does say fall 2012


    1. Thanks. There is some new info - I'll blog about.

  7. This is really frustrating to hear about the '20 mile range' I had really been hoping for something competitive to the volt's range to 40 mi. Unless the price is very aggressive, it isn't worth the above said 'token' range...same goes with the prius- what a waste. There are tons of prius conversions that get much, much better mileage. Sad Ford...so sad & I had such high hopes. I'll be waiting on another car company!

  8. It might be less than 20. The nytimes says more than 15 miles in ev mode

  9. this is what the NYTimes said:
    FORD C-MAX HYBRID AND ENERGI Ford’s first standalone hybrid nameplates, the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi, are gas-electric and plug-in versions of a compact Focus-based people hauler. On sale this fall, the C-Max Hybrid will deliver about 45 m.p.g. in combined city and highway driving; Ford expects the plug-in Energi to drive more than 15 miles on battery power alone and beat the Chevy Volt’s federally rated mileage equivalent of 93 m.p.g.e.

  10. Here's another Video. Guys says it beats the Prius plugin over 13 miles in EV mode.
    Some good video of the car. Get the sense that its about as big as the Prius V, nice hatch on the back. This is what I need. I hope EV mode is 20 or higher.


  11. This guy viewed the c-max energi at the DC auto show. some good info.
    "Ford has not released anything definite on the range, but the Product Specialist on hand was suggesting a range of 21 miles on battery. This suggests a battery in the 6 kwh range."


  12. Toyota, on their Plug-in Prius Website Specs page are now listing 11 miles range on battery alone - quite a ways down from 15 miles we assumed originally (~30%). I had a bad feeling when Toyota said it was reducing the pack size in the production vehicle compared to the test vehicles. This is a real bummer - basically 10 miles.

    One thing not talked about too much is that the tax credit is variable depending on pack size (bigger the pack, the bigger the tax credit with Volt pack size being the top with $7500). On these first generation vehicles, the extra costs of a bigger pack can be mostly covered by the extra tax credit size (this should make it an easy choice for the manufacturers to go with bigger packs).

    Toyota could have gone for a larger pack size (even the size of the test cars packs which were bigger) and gotten a bigger tax credit to cover most of that cost. Anything is good but this is disappointing on several levels. Please Ford do better than 15 miles.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Everyone is just better off buying a Cheap Prius C, paying it off, then adding an after market PHEV kit for $9,000 that gives the cars 40 mile electric only range and you'll get a PHEV for much cheaper than the Volt, the Cmax Energii, etc.

    Stick if American manufacturers your just trying to oversell and over price the cars based on their electrical gimmicks like having the ability to warm up the car using your iphone or similar stupid things like that.

    Your much better off with an after market product. Then you get 53 mpg city with the Prius C and 40 miles on electric only.

    The Volt and Energii don't even come close to that for Tens of thousands more.

    The Prius C is $19K, plus $9K for the add on PHEV for a total of $28K. That's about $15K less than the Ford Energii and 13K less than the Volt.

    Do your math Americans and avoid the gimmicky American products which they are just trying to pull the wool over Americans and over charge for their products.

    Disgusting greed.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Hey you joker don't you know the Volt cost over $40,000 and not $35,000 ?

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. why not make the Plug in CMax in two or more different versions depending on the size of the battery that the buyer opts for just like they do with the Tesla? Give they buyer the option of 5kWh, 10kWh, and 15 kWh and maybe even 20. Then you'll see a LOT more interest. They way it's shaping up--it's just another depressing downer for PHEV lovers.

  18. Was thinking of buying but I need a longer range and $40k is too much if all I needed was a 20 mile range round trip I'd ride a bicycle. Multiple battery packs need to be optional in an aftermarket so is's affordable. Financing Batteries from a dealer makes as much since as financing three years of Gas at time of purchase. I would buy a kit or such with limited range like 50 miles for 20k and then add batteries as needed to increase my range. Also think of Students a starter car should be cheap and expandable not putting them in debt for life. A serious electric car needs a 300 mile range minimum maybe stations could be set up to swap out battery cartages every 100 miles.

  19. Maybe this will be a more cost-efficient alternative for businesses as far as their fully maintained novated leases for employees are concerned.

  20. Some lynbrook honda dealer thought of the possobility of increasing ten more miles for this electric change. Will it be more productive? or will it just affect its interest?

  21. I wanted to buy electric car because not only they're Eco-friendly, they're efficient too. Though I've had some reservations about it because it's not ideal on long driving trip especially since charging stations are not that many yet. -Gwyn

  22. I think Ford will be able to pull it off. They have been one of the most trusted car manufacturer for years and if they price it that way, they will definitely have a strong position in the market. -Lawrence