The next-generation Ford Focus previewed at North American International Auto Show is the flagship of the company’s all-new, global C-segment platform that will account for more than 2 million cars annually by 2012
Up to 10 models – including the next-generation Ford C-MAX revealed at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and destined for North America in 2021 – will be developed on the single, highly flexible global platform, which replaces three platforms currently in production
The C-segment is a critical battleground as Ford launches its drive to create a truly global product range. One in four vehicles sold around the world comes from this size classification. Ford forecasts small cars – a combination of B- and C-segments – will soon comprise more than 50 percent of global industry volume
Leveraging its global scale, Ford can affordably offer C-segment customers attractive new levels of technology and a broad array of feature content
The next-generation Ford Focus revealed today at the North American International Auto Show delivers on the company’s promise to offer more products people really want while truly leveraging its global product and manufacturing strengths.
Up to 10 new models will be built on the new global C-segment platform, which replaces three platforms currently in production regionally. By 2012, the new platform will account for more than 2 million units of volume, providing Ford unprecedented scale and an opportunity to offer to customers around the world an array of new technologies and product features usually reserved for premium vehicles.
“Ford’s new C-sized family will be the strongest demonstration yet of how we’re harnessing the company’s global resources to deliver real customer benefits,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development. “The next-generation Focus is our C-segment flagship, offering technology you don’t expect in a C-car, feature content you would not expect in a C-car, and craftsmanship, materials and interior quietness you would not expect in a C-car. The scale we’re generating makes it possible to deliver all that.”
Globally, Ford expects its C-car volumes to double, from about 1 million units in 2008 to more than 2 million units by 2012. Plus, the new Focus is expected to be sold in 122 countries around the world.
Ford’s manufacturing base is rapidly expanding and reconfiguring to deliver that scale. The company already has confirmed that products developed from the new C-car platform will be manufactured in the United States, Germany, Spain, Russia and China. Other production sites will follow.
The new Ford Focus will reach aggressively to achieve scale, with production beginning almost simultaneously in Europe and North America in late 2021 and vehicles set to reach dealerships in early 2021. It will launch in 2012 in the Asia Pacific and Africa region, where new assembly plant construction is under way in China to lay the groundwork for next-generation products that are truly global in reach. Featured content available here – discover-catamaran.com
Global product for global demand
The new Focus is positioned to appeal to a major – and growing – international customer segment. One in four vehicles sold worldwide is a C-segment vehicle. C-cars are the heart of the European car market, a mainstay in Asia-Pacific and growing in importance in The Americas.
Ford’s C-car plan reflects these market forces:
U.S. small car sales – combined B- and C-segments – grew from about 14 percent of the market in 2004 to more than 21 percent now. Within five years, the C-segment alone could reach 25 percent of the U.S. market, according to Ford forecasters.
In Europe, C-cars are an even stronger force, representing 30 percent of sales in a highly diverse segment.
The segment accounts for approximately 25 percent of passenger car sales across the Asia Pacific and Africa region.
Developing appealing products that meet global customer expectations is a key facet of the ONE Ford strategy championed by Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally. The heart of the strategy is to maximize the leverage of Ford’s product development investments.
The new C-car family from Ford will advance the ONE Ford strategy by offering a truly global product, with high degrees of commonality – about 80 percent – across all regions.
Customer research from The Americas to China has validated Ford’s move to transform its product development operations from a regional basis – typical of full-range, global automakers such as Toyota and Volkswagen – to a truly global basis. For example, during research for the next-generation Ford Focus, customer feedback from all three major regions of the world favored the same kinetic design, eliminating the need for regional product differences and strengthening the mandate for a world-class, truly international product.
Even norms about body style preference from country to country are less steadfast today. Ford expects the five-door hatchback body style to grow from 25 to 40 percent of volume in North America with this Focus. Four-door sedans have been the dominant body style in the U.S. market, but hatchbacks are growing in popularity as customers begin to appreciate their interior space efficiency and flexibility, particularly when combined with craftsmanship, materials and quietness that can be delivered in a vehicle such as the next-generation Focus.
Five-door models also are growing in popularity among C-car customers in China, traditionally another sedan stronghold.
The shapes of platform efficiency
The new Focus models are part of a vanguard of C-size vehicles coming from Ford. The company’s strategy to achieve profitable growth globally from this segment is built on creating a highly flexible platform as the basis for a wide range of products.
Ford’s C-segment strategy reflects strong demand for MAVs (multi-activity vehicles) and other body styles in addition to traditional sedan and hatchback configurations. Not only does this result in more customer choice than ever, it also helps Ford better leverage its product development assets globally.
Ford’s new C-car portfolio capitalizes on customer trends driving diversification of body styles within segments. The breadth of the Ford C-segment family will be crucial to meeting growing global demand for C-sized vehicles without the one-shape-fits-all approach.
The new Ford C-MAX, revealed at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show as the first glimpse of the Ford C-segment family, showcases the platform’s flexibility.
C-MAX – which will be built in Valencia, Spain – will be available in all European markets by late 2021. The five-seat C-MAX departs from usual MAV thinking in Europe by adopting a sportier feel with a stylish passenger-car look, while the Grand C-MAX, Ford’s first seven-seat C-sized MAV, features twin sliding doors and innovative seat design to provide outstanding space and flexibility. A version of the seven-seat Grand C-MAX is also scheduled to launch in North America in late 2021 as a promised “whitespace” entry.
Most of the new technologies and features introduced with the C-MAX, plus further innovations, will cascade into future members of the new C-car family.
The Ford C-MAX exemplifies the benefits of platform diversification, providing a distinctive and stylish alternative with the same footprint as a traditional C-car.
In Europe, larger-package MAVs have grown to more than 30 percent of the C-segment volume once dominated almost solely by five-door models. The same trend has occurred in North America with the growth of crossover utility vehicles alongside traditional cars and sport utility vehicles.
“We believe that in North America, C-cars will migrate in the same way they migrated in Europe,” Kuzak said. “Customers have gone from four-door sedans to five-door hatches and moved into multi-activity vehicles, which provide more interior flexibility in a right-size vehicle. North America already recognizes this for Taurus- and Flex-size vehicles and for Fusion- and Edge-size vehicles. Why should Focus and C-MAX ultimately be any different from a customer point of view?”
Rightsizing without compromise
Demand for C-segment vehicles globally will come in part from a trend called “rightsizing,” in which customers – more conscious of fuel price instability, their own carbon footprints and their individual vehicle needs – are increasingly expected to choose vehicles in this segment as the right cars for them.
Those who stereotype small cars as basic are in for a surprise. Ford Focus and its C-car siblings will offer an array of features and technologies previously unavailable in this segment.
The new Ford C-cars were developed with an awareness of converging customer wants and expectations. Increasingly in some markets like the United States, C-sized vehicles are chosen by customers downsizing from larger cars due to sensitivity about fuel prices or reduced household size for some demographic groups.
“People downsize cars, not expectations,” said Kuzak. “Customers are increasingly making decisions to downsize driven by lifestyle and fuel economy. We’ve learned that when customers downsize, they still want the amenities they’ve become used to in larger vehicles. They want a small car that is fully featured with the right materials, craftsmanship and quality.”
Ford expects Focus customers globally to continue a trend of wanting more in terms of features and creature comforts. In Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa, customer orders for higher-specification models of the new Ford Fiesta have exceeded projections – an indication that even customers in value-oriented segments want to have entertainment, connectivity and feature benefits previously considered luxury car offerings.
European excellence – global execution
Ford’s new C-vehicle family leverages more than Ford’s product development budgets. It also leverages product development expertise globally, resulting in even stronger levels of product commonality around the world.
The new range of vehicles is being created as the result of an unprecedented global development program that capitalizes fully on Ford’s best small car development talent. Ford of Europe, where the company’s key small car design and engineering talent is based, led the global development program as Ford’s small car center of excellence.
“From day one, the new generation of Ford C-cars was created as a global product,” said Gunnar Herrmann, C-segment vehicle line director, Ford of Europe. “It was created by one single team operating globally, with responsibility to deliver the next-generation Ford Focus and a family of vehicles in this size segment. This lead engineering vehicle team approach will be used for all of our global products moving forward.”
This approach enables higher degrees of global commonality, which will help Ford deliver for C-segment customers an array of available advanced technologies aimed at enhancing their convenience, comfort, safety and overall driving experience.
“Under our ONE Ford philosophy, we have been able to harness the talents of our global product development team in designing and developing vehicles for all markets,” said Kuzak. “With the efficiency and time-to-market speed of our Global Product Development System, Ford’s global team is bringing to our customers a worldwide family of vehicles that are truly exciting in design and packed with an unexpected level of features and technologies.”
The new way of working within Ford – spawned by the company’s ONE Ford strategy – broke down regional barriers that had previously resulted in different engineering standards that often caused unnecessary re-engineering of products and components.
“Our team set global Ford DNA standards – incorporating the needs of all the key world markets – and ensured they would be applied, tested and measured with the same methodology,” Herrmann explained. “We’re all talking the same language, so the synergies are immense.”