North American C-Max, based on European Grand C-Max, will be sold only as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid.

Ford has backpedaled a little on its decision to bring the C-Max (based on the European-spec Grand C-Max) to North American shores.

At first, the model was to be an all-out competitor in the compact minivan/crossover market and Ford had plans to offer it as a 7-seater - a crucial factor for volume sales in North America.

But now Ford has announced that the C-Max in North America will be sold exclusively as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid and will forego the 7-seat configuration in exchange for battery space.

The move comes as part of a plan by Ford to triple production of hybrid vehicles to 100,000 units a year by 2013.

Ford says the new C-Max hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will both make better mileage than 41 mpg (6.8 liters/100 km).

But the lack of a 7-seater and only being available as a pricier hybrid will make the C-Max a niche vehicle without much volume.

The North American C-Max goes into production in 2012 at Ford's plant in Wayne, Michigan.

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