Ford’s C-Max Knocks Out Toyota’s Prius

Shares of Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) climbed as much as 2 percent in early-afternoon trading on Monday after America’s second-largest automaker reported that its new C-MAX has become the fastest-selling hybrid ever at launch.

Who Did Ford Beat and By How Much?Ford C Max

Ford has made it abundantly clear that its goal is to take out Toyota Motor Corporation’s (NYSE:TM) Prius family. Ford launched its C-MAX with an ad campaign that directly compared the C-MAX Hybrid with the Prius v, and the company’s release takes every opportunity to show where the C-MAX trumps the Prius.

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The release points out that that the C-MAX Hybrid sold 8,030 units in its first two months of sales, beating out the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which sold 7,300 units in its first two months. The C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid, are selling three times as many units as the combined launch of the Prius v and Prius Plug-in. And finally, Ford points out that it sold 10 percent more C-MAX cars than Toyota sold Prius v and Prius Plug-in cars in November.

Ford’s strong numbers are particularly impressive because they outpaced an 81.3 percent year-to-date increase in Prius family sales through November.

For a quick comparison: the C-Max rolls in with 47 miles per gallon, 188 horse power, and a price tag of $25,995. The Prius V rolls in with 44 miles per gallon, 134 horse power, and a $27,280 price tag…

Ford C-MaxCHEAT SHEET Analysis: Trends Support the C-MAX

“Fuel economy has become the No. 1 purchase consideration as customers try to save money at the pump,” said C.J. O’Donnell, group marketing manager for electrification at Ford, in a statement. “Our customers also are excited to have a fresh hybrid option, with leading fuel economy that does not sacrifice driving fun, performance and technology – choices typically not offered with hybrids.”

That last sentiment is likely another stab at Toyota’s Prius family, but it captures a very real trend in the U.S. car market. One of the core components of our CHEAT SHEET investing framework explains that companies riding macro trends tend to outperform those that don’t. In this case, Ford is rising with the incoming tide of customers who are demanding better fuel economy and better performance.

Ford’s record C-MAX sales aren’t just the only evidence of this. Electric-drive car sales for the first 11 months of 2012 are up over 46 percent compared to the full-year sales in 2011. Electric-drive vehicles account for about 3.3 percent of the total car market, and this share is expected to do nothing but grow. This is up from 2.23 percent in 2011.

For its part, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) has also jumped on the bandwagon. The company has had a hand in electric-drive vehicles for a while, and was a pioneer in the EV market with the Chevrolet Volt. A notable addition to the hybrid market is the 2013 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup.

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