Ford's Prius-fighting Model E taking shape

The E will be offered as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an EV.

Ford is preparing an eco-friendly hatchback aimed right at the Toyota Prius, the Chevrolet Volt, and the Hyundai Ioniq, a new report finds.

The car will be called Model E, a name trademarked by the Blue Oval in December of 2013. It will take the form of a compact that will be offered as a hybrid, as a plug-in hybrid, and as an all-electric model. Consequently, it will replace the hybrid and plug-in variants of the C-Max, and the Focus electric.

The Model E will be built on the same platform as the next-generation Focus that's expected to arrive in 2018. It will stand out thanks to model-specific design, though it's too early to tell what it will look like.

The Ford Model E will likely be unveiled at a major auto show in 2018, and it will go on sale shortly after as a 2019 model. Industry trade journal Automotive News believes that production will take place in a new $1.6 billion factory that Ford plans to build in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The next-generation Focus will also be built there.

What's in a name?The name Model E hints at the car's electrified drivetrain while paying homage to historically important Fords like the Model T and the Model A. Tesla tried to protect the Model E moniker in 2014, presumably so that its lineup would spell out the word "sexy" once the Model Y crossover arrives, but Ford prevented the company from using it on a production car. The sedan born as the Model E was consequently re-named Model 3.

Read more!