Print 45 comment(s) - last by Silver2k7.. on May 10 at 11:05 AM

Current world market Ford Focus

Current North American Ford Focus

Ford Transit Connect
Ford goes its own way when it comes to efficient vehicles

It's been a tough year for the auto industry. Most major auto manufacturers have witnessed months of double-digit sales declines. Both General Motors and Chrysler took bailout money from the government to weather these harsh times while Ford said "no thanks" and decided to go it alone.

Since the bailout funds were initially handed out in December, Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy and GM appears to be nearing that point. Ford, on the other hand, appears to be moving ahead with returning to profitability and shifting its production lines to producing more fuel efficient vehicles.

Ford yesterday announced plans to invest $550 million in retooling its Michigan Assembly plant to produce the all-new Ford Focus and an accompanying battery-electric variant. The Michigan Assembly Plant currently produces Ford's behemoth body-on-frame SUVs: the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator.

In addition to the change at the Michigan Assembly Plant, Ford will also convert two other truck plant -- Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico and Louisville Assembly -- to produce the subcompact Ford Fiesta and Focus-based compact vehicles.

"We're changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles," said Ford's Mark Fields. "As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we'll be there with more of the products they really want."

"The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford," added Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles."

Like its Fiesta sibling, the new Ford Focus will truly be a global vehicle. The North American market will get the same Focus that sells in other parts of the world which isn't the case today -- the current NA Focus is based on a platform dating back to 1999, whereas other world markets got a fully revamped Focus in 2004.

While many auto enthusiasts will be happy to hear that North America will finally have a vehicle on par with the rest of the world, the big news will be with the battery-electric version of the Focus. According to Ford, the vehicle will feature an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle is being developed in conjunction with Magna International and will go into production in 2011 as a 2012 model year vehicle.

Ford also has plans to market a battery-electric version of its upcoming Transit Connect commercial vehicle, a next generation hybrid, and a next generation plug-in hybrid by 2012.

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Good to see
By FITCamaro on 5/7/2009 9:30:31 AM , Rating: 3
That they're bringing the Focus the rest of the world gets to the states. I remember seeing the world market focus in Casino Royale and was like "Damn. That looks good."

Now that GM is now officially Government Motors, I'm far less likely to buy cars from them when it comes time to get another one. Luckily that's likely years away.

RE: Good to see
By Spivonious on 5/7/2009 9:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree. When I was in Europe on my honeymoon a couple years ago, I saw the new Focus and liked it so much that I took a photo of it. Imagine how disappointed I was when the new Focus was released in the US and it looked nothing like the European one.

Hopefully this also means we'll see the Focus RS.

Ford surviving in this economy is just further proof that when the government gets involved, bad things happen.

RE: Good to see
By BillyAZ1983 on 5/7/2009 2:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I am wrong fellas but wasn't the Ford Bond drove in Casino Royale, a fusion not a foucs?

I remember looking at a focus when I bought my fusion and what swayed me was the fact that Bond drove my car lol.

If they drove one in Quantum Of Solace I can see that, but I don't remember what they drove in that movie.

RE: Good to see
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2009 3:05:05 PM , Rating: 3
As far as I know, it was actually a Ford Mondeo.

RE: Good to see
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/8/2009 10:58:40 PM , Rating: 3
Ford surviving in this economy is just further proof that when the government gets involved, bad things happen.

The fact that Ford is weathering the storm and GM and Chrysler are not has nothing to do with the government. It has everything to do with the good choices and business practices that Ford made in the past several years, and the bad ones the others made.

This isn't rocket science. All you have to is read some energy related blogs or books to know that oil is running out and will be much more expensive in the future. I'm not even interested in energy or cars and have known about peak oil since 2005. Ford realized this and made their choices accordingly. GM and Chrysler chose to drink the kool-aid.

RE: Good to see
By Silver2k7 on 5/10/2009 11:05:40 AM , Rating: 2
Its strange that they have a fugly version for the US market.. why not use the one the would sell best, or are they not interessted in selling ??

RE: Good to see
By SublimeSimplicity on 5/7/2009 9:48:19 AM , Rating: 2
So if I'm to understand this correctly, the second gen Euro model came out in 2004 and the facelift that is pictured in the article came out in 2008.

The US model that is pictured in this article also came out in 2008.

Who on earth looks at sketches or clay models or whatever of those two vehicles and OKs additional R&D funds to build the US ugly duckling version?

RE: Good to see
By Aquila76 on 5/7/2009 10:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
I might actually buy one of those. I want a 4-door hatch / wagon for my next car, and this will make choosing even harder. I was weighing between the Mazda3 and Subaru WRX, now add this into the mix. Gonna be doing a lot of test drives, apparently.

RE: Good to see
By BillyAZ1983 on 5/7/2009 3:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
My best friend's bro bought a Mazdaspeed 3 and holy crap that thing is FAST. When the turbo kicks in, you really feel the car pull through the gears.

RE: Good to see
By FITCamaro on 5/7/2009 4:53:28 PM , Rating: 2
Modded they can be fast. Stock...meh.

RE: Good to see
By Daphault on 5/7/2009 6:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. My stock MS3 is quick (I prefer the term "quick" to "fast") compared to most other vehicles for normal commuting, but I don't consider is all that quick. I guess its all relative to established perceptions. My heavily mod'ed STi... defiantly a lot quicker.

RE: Good to see
By cheetah2k on 5/7/2009 9:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
I have the MPS 3 in Australia, and with basic mods such as a Turbo Back exhaust, Cold air induction and Xede ecu piggyback, I managed to squeeze 206kw (274HP) and 430Nm torque at the wheels. They are darn fast modded, thats a fact.

There is also one particular MPS 3 in the US that has cracked the 400HP mark which is a major achievement. Now we just need to sort out the reliability issues with the 2.3ltr MZR motor, as they are starting to blow rods like hot cakes.

RE: Good to see
By Daphault on 5/7/2009 1:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, not only does Europe get better looking versions, but better performing versions. And it's been going on like this for a long time; the Escort RS Cosworth as an example. I simple don't understand why we get stuck with the ugly siblings. Does anyone find the US version to be a better looker?

RE: Good to see
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2009 1:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it was kind of odd that they sold the old Focus platform in the US, in direct competition with the Mazda 3 which used the Euro Focus/2nd generation platform.

RE: Good to see
By cheetah2k on 5/7/2009 9:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what happens when a company like Ford only owns +/-30% stake in another company (Mazda) and allows access to the parts bin and sharing of chassis design thru their respective agreements.

RE: Good to see
By Tsuwamono on 5/8/2009 8:51:59 PM , Rating: 1
Why? because they would be less likely to fail?

Thats pretty single minded. And since when does the government own GM? i dont remember seeing that? However I haven't had internet for the past week because i just moved into a new place so i could have missed that.

I find alot of americans think its either pure capitalism or its communism.. Thats a pretty big leap you know and there are light years between the two. Canada isn't communist and our banks are WATCHED by the government to make sure they dont do something like the sub prime shit that the american banks did.

By DuctTapeAvenger on 5/7/2009 10:26:51 AM , Rating: 3
I'm glad to see the European Focus coming here. Everyone I know says the newer Focus we have here looks great, but there is no comparing it to the Euro model.

I would definitely not mind getting my hands on an ST-3 model, assuming it isn't detuned for our market.

RE: Finally
By Steve1981 on 5/7/2009 10:42:52 AM , Rating: 3
This all new Ford Focus remind me of my old Mazda 3. Ohh wait...

RE: Finally
By cheetah2k on 5/7/2009 9:32:59 PM , Rating: 2
I can guarantee that if the Focus RS ever made it to Australia it would sell like hot cakes.

Unfortunately, we have to wait till 2011/2012 until Ford kicks starts its Aussie Focus Assembly plant before we would see anything like the RS, and in any event it will be an Australian made FPV (Ford Performance Vehicle) which means it'll be nowhere near as hard and angry as the UK version.

<sniff.. sniff... MWAHHHHHHHHHH!!>

What were they thinking?
By ctodd on 5/7/2009 10:34:57 AM , Rating: 3
Looking at the American Focus vs. the European Focus only makes me think that Ford is purposely trying to diminish profits. You would have to be pretty desperate to buy that ugly waste of resources! I would by a Hyundai over that any day of the week! I didn’t like the previous design, but when I saw this design I about puked. I had bought a 2000 hatchback model a few years ago and it was the cheapest piece of crap I have ever owned. Nearly every rubber item on that vehicle dry rotted into pieces. Even the rubber hosing that feeds the windshields. Unfortunately, I sold it to my mother-in-law and now she hates me.

RE: What were they thinking?
By 67STANG on 5/7/09, Rating: 0
RE: What were they thinking?
By Zoomer on 5/8/2009 7:25:07 AM , Rating: 2
Blame US regulators for that. ;)

Yes, safety regulations are important, but let's not overlook the fact that it hampers things in situations like this. Oh wait, emissions regulations as well, since from the regulations, it looks like different things are bad for Europeans.

By ArcliteHawaii on 5/8/2009 11:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
Small cars are profit losers for the most part. Margins (both monetary and percentage) are half or less, esp compared to SUVs and sports cars. It wouldn't surprise me if they intentionally made them as cheap and ugly as possible to suppress sales, and be able to say to the gov't, "See? CAFE standards don't work! No one buys small cars!"

Focus specs?
By Doormat on 5/7/2009 2:01:23 PM , Rating: 2
It might be a little early to announce specs for the BEV Focus, but based on what they've leaked so far, its supposed to be 100-mile electric range. I'm sure it would be a fine commuter car, but its for those living in a multiple-car household (as a single guy with one car I'd never be able to leave town in a car).

I'm estimating the price to be around $29,000 before the $7500 tax credit, so it'll be about $10,000 cheaper than a Volt, but no range extender. I guess we'll find out if Americans suffer from range anxiety...

By thartist on 5/7/2009 10:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
why do they stick to that style for it?

the European version looks so facking fantastic!!!

By JasonMick on 5/7/09, Rating: -1
RE: Aerodynamics?
By Brandon Hill on 5/7/2009 9:21:24 AM , Rating: 4
It's a commercial vehicle -- the boxier it is, the more cargo it can carry. That explains the raised roof, slab sides, etc.

Take a look at the Dodge Sprinter for another example.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By JasonMick on 5/7/09, Rating: -1
RE: Aerodynamics?
By therealnickdanger on 5/7/2009 10:03:19 AM , Rating: 2
Save the electric for sedans, until it is refined and perfected, IMO.

Who says they haven't? ;-)

I can't help but think that the Transit Connect is designed for the European market. A shorter range may be just fine for a delivery truck in a small town. I could see such a truck being perfect for postal service stuff. Bakeries, catering, etc.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/8/2009 11:06:16 PM , Rating: 2
EXACTLY. Aerodynamics come into play once a car exceeds 35 MPH. Below that it's a non factor. If a truck like this almost never sees the highway, then it won't matter that it's boxy.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Jansen on 5/7/2009 10:17:06 AM , Rating: 1
It looks similar to the Ampere, from Smith Electric Vehicles (part of the Tanfield Group).

RE: Aerodynamics?
By JasonMick on 5/7/09, Rating: -1
RE: Aerodynamics?
By Keeir on 5/7/2009 1:53:46 PM , Rating: 4
I also find it interesting that it uses iron-phosphate-lithium ion technology instead of lithium carbonate ion like the Volt.

Thats mainly because the Volt selected the battery supplier based more on believe availibility rather than straight chemistry decision. I think they both use similar amounts of lithium per kWh storage, but the Iron-Phospate is supposedly more durable (More Cycles, Less sensitivity to temperature and deep discharge).

As a side note, the Battery is 40kWh (so the 6-8 charge time is with 220/240V) and it can deliever enough power with the 50kW motor to get to 70mph (not 70 mpg). At 100 miles per 40 kWh this would be a straight Mpge (33 kWh per gallon of gasoline) around 80+ Mpge.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By knutjb on 5/7/2009 7:32:09 PM , Rating: 3
I.E. A market specific vehicle. Lets be real vans, by nature are ugly with few exceptions. So what it's a delivery van, function over form in the corporate world.

Plug-ins still have a problem, adequate power supply especially if 50% of the supply is removed when the WH kills off coal/oil generated power(separate issue). While in general studies have said the grid can support it, why has Ford been working with power companies to make sure the infrastructure actually exists before selling such vehicles? They appear to be doing their homework to ensure their success...

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Zoomer on 5/8/2009 7:19:28 AM , Rating: 2
There are commercial vehicles; the cooperate fleet/facilities manger will ensure that.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By hrah20 on 5/7/2009 7:32:53 PM , Rating: 2
wow, Only now I realize how Ugly the us version of the focus is, looks like a datsun from the 60's

here's a little comparison

RE: Aerodynamics?
By austinag on 5/7/2009 11:01:38 AM , Rating: 2
I like the idea of putting hybrid tech into trucks and commercial vehicles. It makes more sense than putting it in tiny little econo boxes. The econo box was fuel efficient in the first place, apply the tech to the problem, not your PR department.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Starcub on 5/7/2009 12:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
Electric motors generate most of their torque under low RPM's. This makes them ideal for low speed hauling. In fact there are several municipalities that employ deisel/electric hybrid busses since the performance properties of the two tech's mate so well.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By nct on 5/7/2009 1:11:47 PM , Rating: 5
A delivery truck seems like the perfect application for a hybrid engine. The typical driving pattern of short trips with lots of stops and starts maximizes the advantages of regenerative braking and auto engine shutoff, while minimizing the disadvantage of limited range. The added bulk from the batteries will have much less impact on cargo capacity than on a passenger vehicle. Since the vehicles are also not likely to spend much time at high speed, their poor aerodynamics have little impact on fuel efficiency. Also, since they probably get poor mileage to begin with, a difference of a few miles per gallon is a big improvement. At least in an urban setting, it makes a lot of sense to me.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Samus on 5/7/2009 5:45:38 PM , Rating: 2
These commercial vehicles are light-duty deliver vans. The Ford transit vans in the UK spend most of their life in the 50-100 kilometer per day range running inner-city delivery tasks, making a hybrid design ideal (especially for regenorative braking, ie, taxi cabs) and aerodynamics unimportant. However, there are people who take these on the highway (I've seen them doing 200kph on the autobahn) but that doesn't represent the majority of owners. As fleet vehicles, these rarely see high speed roadway action.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By ArcliteHawaii on 5/8/2009 11:09:32 PM , Rating: 1
Uh, hey Jason, you're raising good points. How come everyone is downrating you?

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Natfly on 5/7/2009 10:31:09 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it kind of reminds me of the pope mobile.

RE: Aerodynamics?
By Hare on 5/7/2009 1:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's supposed to be able to carry stuff. You can't pile too many boxes if the car is the shape of a teardrop.

Btw. Firefox livebookmark (RSS) lists this article as
"Ford Invests $550 Million to Convert Truck Ass".

RE: Aerodynamics?
By lco45 on 5/7/2009 7:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
It's a low speed delivery vehicle. Wind resistance is less of an issue, and takes a second place to cargo capacity.


p. magnet..
By DrRap on 5/7/09, Rating: -1
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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