The Global Ford Focus for customers in Asia. (Ford)
Ford unveils new Focus: Here's what's different
By PHOEBE WALL HOWARD
Detroit Free Press
Ford Motor Co. unveiled its new Ford Focus compact car in China and Europe on Tuesday, emphasizing the global importance of the passenger car in a product line dominated by sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, particularly in the U.S.
And, amid international debate about new tariffs, Ford confirmed the vehicle will no longer be made in the U.S. but exclusively in Chongqing, China, and Saarlouis, Germany.
The landscape illustrates the nexus of the shift from cars to trucks and SUVs and globalization.
In May 2018, the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne will stop making the Focus and be retooled and devoted to the Ford Ranger and Bronco. Meanwhile, the company is focused on tailoring vehicles to individual markets worldwide while cutting costs by reducing design options.
"We're evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love," said Jim Farley, president of Global Markets. "We'll tailor which cars in the Focus line-up we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers' different needs and preferences."
The vehicle will be available in 4-door sedan, 5-door estate/wagon and 5-door hatchback body styles, Ford said. The Dearborn-based automaker revealed the Focus Vignale, sporty ST-Line, adventure-oriented Active and upscale Titanium in Europe and ST-Line and Titanium in China.
The Focus will go on sale in Europe and China this year and North America in late 2019. Many Focuses sold in the U.S. are expected to come from China.
Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz confirmed that the product portfolio shift by 2020 to trucks and utilities — including electrified versions — will account for almost 90 percent of Ford's volume. However, passenger cars, like the Focus, "remain an important part of our lineup," he said.
Even so, industry experts forecast a steep sales decline for the next Focus in the U.S., said Dave Sullivan, product analyst at AutoPacific Inc.
"The Focus will eventually be Ford's entry-level car in the U.S. and will still fill an important spot in the lineup, but Ford will likely reduce their marketing budget for Focus in the future as a result of importing it from China and shifting to promoting crossovers," he said. "In Europe and China, there is still a lot of runway left for Focus. China and Europe aren't as crossover crazy as Americans. It's why Ford makes this in Europe and China and not in the U.S."