Ford updates electric and efficient car offerings

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Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid will come out this year from Ford, boasting a 620-mile range between fill-ups.
Courtesy Ford

Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid will come out this year from Ford, boasting a 620-mile range between fill-ups. 

It's that time of year again. The Portland International Auto Show kicks off Thursday and runs through the weekend, bringing the latest makes and models to the Oregon Convention Center.

Ford is among those in town, showing off a new plug-in hybrid to be released a bit later this year and the ultra-efficient three-cylinder Fiesta, which officials say will be the most efficient gas car in North America.

Erich Merkle, Ford U.S. sales analyst, said he expects 2013 to be a good year for car sales in general.

"We're seeing a recovery in the marketplace," Merkle said. "The economy is improving and the average age of the vehicle population is older than we've ever seen it."

As consumers edge toward the marketplace, Merkle said their going for small, efficient cars.

"The top reason to buy is centered on fuel efficiency," he said.

Merkle said Northwest sales of Ford hybrid and hybrid plug-ins are up over 300 percent in the fourth quarter.

What's driving that leap is the October release of the plug-in hybrid Ford C-MAX, which debuted at last year's auto show.

In his year-end report, Aaron Chew, research analyst for the Maxim Group, noted that strong sales of the C-MAX helped goose December electric vehicle sales figures, which ended the year at 56,000.

"Overall I'm surprised at how well they came out of the gate," Chew said of the C-MAX.

This year, Chew expects sales of electric cars to more than double to 127,000, with C-MAX being one of the top sellers along with the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf, Toyota's plug-in Prius and the Tesla Model S.

At the Portland auto show, Ford will be showing off the Fusion Energi, its newest plug-in hybrid, which boasts a range of 621 miles. It will also have one of its new ultra-efficient gas-powered 2014 Fiestas.

For a look at Ford's offerings, click on the image above.

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