NICE, France -- Ford Motor Co.'s C-Max now comes in two sizes and there will be hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the compact minivan.
Ford launched the C-Max in Europe in 2003 as a five-seat minivan and has sold 847,857 units of the first-generation model.
But rivals such as Volkswagen, Renault and Citroen now offer five- and seven-seat compact minivans, so Ford's second-generation C-Max will come with similar seating configurations.
The five-seat C-Max is aimed at "empty nesters" who want a vehicle with more space than a hatchback and a higher seating position and more sporty look than a station wagon.
The Grand C-Max, which has five- and seven-seat options, is targeted at families. It has sliding rear doors developed in-house by Ford. The Grand C-Max is 140mm (5.5 inches) longer than the C-Max.
The new models will go on sale in Europe in November and, for the first time, in North America, in late 2011.
Ford believes the smaller variant won't be large enough for American tastes, and U.S. buyers won't want a diesel, so U.S. customers will get only the gasoline-powered seven-seat minivan, sold as C-Max without the "grand" prefix.
C-Max models for the United States and Europe -- including hybrid versions -- will be built at Ford's plant in Valencia, Spain.
The new C-Max models are the first of at least 10 new vehicles or derivatives that the U.S. automaker will build on its new C-segment platform. The cars will be sold in more than 120 markets, accounting for more than 2 million units annually. The platform also underpins the new Focus range.
"The Focus is now on sharing components from internal Ford sources rather than using elements from our former brands Volvo, Land Rover or Jaguar," Frank Liebe, a Ford executive for compact car body engineering, said at the C-Max's press launch here.
Quieter and safer
He said the new C-Max produces less road noise and offers improved safety compared with the current model so the company expects to get the top rating of five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests.
European customers will be offered a choice of three gasoline engines including the new 1.6-liter Ford Ecoboost gasoline direct-injection engine mated to a new six-speed manual transmission. It has CO2 emissions of 154 grams per kilometer and a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy compared with the 2.0-liter engine it replaces. There will also be updated 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel engines, which are jointly projected to account for about 50 percent of C-Max sales. The 1.6-liter has CO2 emissions of 129g/km.
The 2.0-liter diesel engine has an dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission as an option.
Ford's first European hybrid
The five-seat C-Max will be the first hybrid sold in Europe by Ford with gasoline-electric and hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions due in 2013.