Ford is to build its first hybrid models for Europe at its Valencia plant with investment of up to US$36m partly funded by the Spanish government. The factory will also build the seven-seat C-Max minivan for North America, the automaker confirmed on Monday.

The vehicles – due to launch in 2013 – will be derivatives of the redesigned 2010 C-Max MPV (a five-seat minivan): a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Valencia will also produce a seven-seat C-Max for export to North America, beginning in late 2011, following the launch there of the European-designed, Mexican-built Fiesta in coming weeks and the Michigan-built redesigned 2011 Focus, with which the C-Max shares its platform, later this year.  

“These new [hybrid] models are key to Ford’s commitment to delivering a portfolio of alternative powertrain vehicles globally and to European customers in the next few years,” said Ford of Europe chairman and CEO John Fleming.

“Our Valencia plant here in Spain will build these new C-Max five-seat hybrid models exclusively for European customers seeking a practical, efficient and affordable environmental vehicle while the export to North America of the new Grand C-Max petrol model beginning in late 2011 opens a new era of production for the team at the plant,” Fleming added.

The Spanish government and Valencia regional administration are providing grant support in line with European Union requirements, although Ford said the exact amount would be decided “at a later date”.

Ford plans to introduce five battery electric vehicle (BEV) and hybrid models in Europe by 2013.  The C-Max derivatives will join the full EV Transit Connect, already announced for 2011, and a battery-electric Focus due in 2012.  The fifth vehicle, also a hybrid-electric, will be announced later.

“The five alternative powertrains we will introduce by 2013 – including the HEV and PHEV C-Max models we are confirming today – strengthen our commitment to providing customers with access to significant fuel economy improvements and reduced CO2 emissions to meet their functional needs and without compromising their driving experience,” said Fleming.

The C-MAX and Grand C-MAX go on sale across Europe during the second half of 2010 while the seven-seat model for North America will go into production in Valencia late in 2011.