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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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.

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