TRAVERSE CITY, MI – At the touch of a button, Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid drivers can travel 85 mph — the industry’s top electric-only speed among all plug-in hybrid vehicles — with the push of a button.

The all-new, five-passenger Ford C-MAX Energi can keep pace with the flow of traffic, even when the EV mode button is engaged and the gasoline engine is off, according to the automaker.

“We understand customers place a high value on the zero-emission electrified driving experience,” said Ford Vice President of Powertrain Engineering Joe Bakaj. “This inspired our engineering team to equip the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid with a button that enables drivers to choose an electric-only driving mode.”

With a fully charged battery, C-MAX Energi is rated at 195 hp. It offers an EV mode range of 20-plus miles and overall range of 550 miles.

The EV mode button – mounted in the center stack – allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes.

Drivers can opt for electric-only driving without gasoline engine power, normal hybrid mode where the powertrain melds electric and gasoline engine power as appropriate, or a battery-saving mode that reserves the pack power for later use.

When plug-in power is available, drivers can change modes with each press of the EV mode button. The mode currently selected is displayed in the driver’s left instrument cluster screen.

The EV mode button – mounted in the center stack – allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes.

The EV mode button – mounted in the center stack – allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes.

EV: Auto. “In EV: Auto mode, the vehicle automatically takes advantage of plug-in charge,” said Kevin Layden, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “When the charge is depleted, C-MAX Energi operates as a full hybrid.”

The powertrain computer automatically selects the appropriate blend of battery usage and engine usage based on demand and the state of battery charge.

EV: Now. In EV: Now mode, the vehicle operates in EV mode using plug-in power. The gasoline engine will not operate unless an override setting is selected or certain conditions are present such as the accelerator pedal being fully depressed and the driver enabling the gas engine. EV: Now also activates a special Manage EV screen to monitor functionality.

To achieve the EV range estimate shown on the corresponding gauge, drivers are given coaching cues to maximize EV mode. Additionally, use of climate power and energy gauges will further help drivers manage vehicle energy use.

EV: Later. The EV: Later setting saves plug-in power for later use, such as transitioning from highway to lower-speed residential neighborhood use. C-MAX Energi operates in normal hybrid mode, using both gas engine and electric motor. Plug-in power is reserved until the driver switches to the EV: Now or EV: Auto setting.

Built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., the all-new C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid begins arriving this fall at EV Certified Ford dealers in 19 markets, followed by nationwide rollout in all 50 states in early 2013.

Ford first unveiled the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid at the 2011 North American International Auto Show.

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