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New Ford Hybrid Takes Aim At Prius

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DEARBORN — (WWJ) As Ford launches its first hybrid only vehicle, it also launches a series of commercials that make direct comparison to the most popular hybrid of all, Toyota’s Prius.

“What we need to do is establish C-MAX as an alternative, get into the shopping set against Prius,” said Ford Marketing Communications Manager Matt Van Dyke.


VIDEO: Ford C-Max Ad — “Says Whee”

It’s not necessarily about taking sales away from Prius, said Van Dyke, but letting people who are considering a hybrid know that there is a new choice out there.

“We recognize that the market share leader is Prius,” he said. “They are selling in large volume. Now, we have a product alternative that is our first dedicated, stand-alone hybrid.”


VIDEO: Ford C-Max ad — “Be Great”

The C-MAX, which is now arriving in dealerships, replaces the hybrid version of the Escape. It’s now arriving in dealerships. Ford sold about a thousand C-MAX hybrids last month.
Ford is comparing the C-MAX to the larger Prius-V.

The C-MAX has a fuel economy of 47 miles per gallon, and a starting price of $25,000. It’s built at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

The new ads are based on a cartoon from the 70’s and 80’s called “La Linea.” The goal is to compare the vehicles in a non-threatening way.

“We realized that we could actually use it to compare Prius in a fun, optimistic way,” said Toby Barlow of Ford’s advertising agency Team Detroit. “It’s a great way to be hard hitting, and also tongue -in-cheek at the same time.”

Tom Rivers, a vice president with Nielsen, says green advertising has become very popular. He told reporters that Ford has a great deal of environmental credibility.

“Their awareness is significantly greater than the average brand out there,” he said. “It’s understandable from a research effort how much effort Ford is putting behind its green messaging.”

The C-MAX is launching during an era of volatile gasoline prices. It also comes as the cost of hybrids has been coming down.

Ford’s Matt Van Dyke says there’s a large potential market, as one out of three car buyers now way they would consider a hybrid.

“The value story is really coming to life,” he said. “The payback period on the mileage, vs. the increased cost of the technology has really come down.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
twitter: @jefferygilbert

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