Next-generation Ford Focus Announced!

Ten years ago, the 2000 Ford Focus hit our shores, along with promises from Ford that this was a true “global” car, where the same car was sold in multiple markets.  The only differences would be right and left-hand drive versions of the car, but everything else would stay the same.  Flash-forward a few years, and Europe got a redesigned Focus, while the U.S. Focus carried on unchanged.  In 2005, when we finally got a redesigned Focus, it wasn’t even close to the European Focus.  Ford announced this week that when the next-generation Focus arrives, it truly will be a global car.

I have to believe Ford this time.  Whereas they were riding high on the truck and SUV craze of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, now they have finally gotten competitive in the car market, and need to stay competitive in order to keep their market share.  The “global” car initiative sounds good on paper, and makes a lot of business sense.  Instead of having multiple sets of tooling, designs and powertrains for a car that doesn’t need to change much from market to market, having the same car built in one or more factories around the world will save Ford a lot of research and development, design and marketing money.

So, while Ford may have a “global” car, and actually keep it that way this time, we here in the U.S. won’t see the diesel engines that are so popular in Europe, but we will see EcoBoost engines, which use new engine designs and technology to improve fuel mileage and performance.  Also, the more stringent emissions and fuel requirements imposed by our government will require Ford to equip the next-generation Focus with different engines for us than what the Europeans will get.

The official percentage of shared parts for Focus cars destined for different countries is said to be “about 80 percent,” which is a fantastic number.  If Ford is counting the individual engine parts instead of whole engines, this leaves very few interior or exterior parts that have to change to get down to the magic 80%, but expect turn signal and corner marker lights to differ, as well as front and rear bumpers, for different license plates.

Now that Ford has announced the new Fiesta that is supposed to be in showrooms sometime this year, the Focus can move upmarket with what Ford calls MyFord, which is a system by which the owner can personalize their driving experience through LCD screens and settings, bringing cars more in line with cell phones as far as customization.  Along these same lines, the interior has been redesigned to incorporate 5-way switches (4 compass points and a center push button) and the aforementioned LCD screens, both of which have been found on cell phones.

Along with the changes you can see, Ford announced that they will be offering a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine at the start, available with either their new PowerShift 6-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual transmission.  I would expect a performance model to be released sometime in 2011 as a 2012 model, with an EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine.

Looking at the pictures Ford released, the next-generation Focus looks to be a handsome car.  It combines elements of the Ford Fusion in the front, and Mazda 6 profile and rear end.  The new design should help boost sales, given the current Focus’ polarizing exterior.

by John Suit

Source: Ford

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