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 MAXimizing Expectations

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​DEARORN - Want to get from Detroit to New York City or Los Angeles to Las Vegas with one tank of gas? With a certified 570 mile range on a single tank, combined with fully-charged battery the Ford C-MAX Hybrid can get you there.

Up till now there hasn’t been a “real” Toyota Prius alternative on the market. The C-MAX story goes beyond fuel economy alone. MAXimizing performance with efficiency and a tech-savvy appeal all make the C-MAX Hybrid the lead contender in the U.S. hybrid market.

According to C.J. O’Donnell, manager, Ford Electrified Vehicles, the all-new C-MAX Hybrid has been an overall hit for Ford.

“We’re seeing a lot of new customers,” said O’Donnell. “It’s an all-new product that’s bringing incremental business to the showroom.” Bringing in what he calls an “aspirational target,” C-MAX is luring a new wave of customers to the Ford brand. “These are the most affluent customers we’ve seen in any Ford nameplate to date,” he said. They’re motivated by the traditional luxury qualities of a vehicle and driven by an environmental consciousness – seeking advanced features and technologies, and of course great gas mileage.

“Those motivations make them unique from the traditional luxury customer,” he said. “These buyers are well-educated with higher degrees, mature, a little bit older than you’d expect, but very affluent. That’s the demographic that we’ve not attracted in the past.”

And when it comes to purchasing, they’re not just going after the entry content, with 50 percent of sales attributed to the SEL model. Not only do they like the car, they like all the goodies, too, according to O’Donnell. Like the Forward Sensing System, panoramic fixed-glass roof and rear view camera.

Some other attractive attributes that set the C-MAX apart include the SmartGauge® with EcoGuide, which uses graphic displays to show vehicle efficiency, the hands-free liftgate that eliminates the key fumble when you need to load cargo and a 110-volt outlet in the backseat that adds to convenience.

These qualities are helping C-MAX steal hybrid sales away from other brands at an impressive rate. So far this year, C-MAX has sold more than 5,900 units and sales are trending up.

From a year-to-date standpoint the C-MAX Hybrid holds one of the highest conquest rates in the Ford showroom, according to Patricia Piedrahita, manger, Brand Marketing. And that’s at the rate of 64 percent.

“This is a pattern among all our electrified and hybrid vehicles. We’re drawing in people who haven’t considered us in the past,” said Piedrahita.

The top competitive conquest for C-MAX Hybrid is the Toyota Prius. With a near 10 percent conquest rate, C-MAX holds the highest Toyota conquest rate on the showroom floor, next to the Focus Electric. The second highest conquest brand is Honda, with customers often trading their CRV.

“Our No. 1 conquest source is Toyota and it just puts some credibility to our theory that Prius owners are ready for a slightly more ‘real car’ feel. They want a hybrid but they’ve spent enough years paying their dues. We’re offering them a nice alternative,” she said.

So how does the newly introduced C-MAX Hybrid compare against the Prius?

Historically speaking, Toyota has had 60 to 70 percent of the hybrid vehicle industry. Now with the C-MAX lineup, Ford’s been able to go from a 3 percent share to nearly a 17 percent share of the electric vehicle market, while Toyota fell to 55 percent in the same period.

Blatantly going head-to-head with Prius, Ford’s first ads for the C-MAX that debuted last fall made direct comparisons to fuel economy, the spacious size and other characteristics with the character La Linea.

Initial results from the La Linea campaign have proven to sit well with customers. The campaign’s message communication, brand communication and purchase consideration each measured higher than the norm.

Continuing with that buzz, the campaign will soon pick up where it left off with two new TV spots that feature La Linea acting out playful poetry readings designed to highlight C-MAX features.

Even though it’s naturally compared to the Prius, the C-MAX has the aptitude to stand alone in any lineup.

“When you get in the car, the fabrics and the materials chosen are superior to Toyota,” said O’Donnell. “The vehicle dynamics, performance and on road attributes are much stronger than Prius. The package and versatility, including the full platform, are a real win.”

Max performance, max technology, max flexibility and max opportunity as well as choice are what you’ll experience behind the wheel of the new C-MAX.

“There’s a dynamic character and versatility that’s inherent in this product. It really has a unique feel,” said O’Donnell.

With C-MAX you don’t have to sacrifice “real car” performance for fuel efficiency or capability – it’s an “and” car.



4/3/2013 6:20 AM