By on May 8, 2014

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Despite a majority of U.S. consumers preferring automatic transmissions over manual offerings, Ford’s plan to offer the 1-liter EcoBoost with only a six-speed manual for the 2015 Focus is seen by the automaker as a sensible decision for the home market.

Ward’s Auto reports U.S. Focus customers are more likely to choose a manual over an automatic — the lineup as a whole as a take rate of between 12 percent and 13 percent — if not the desire to learn how to shift, according to Focus marketing manager Seema Bardwaj:

We see younger customers who think it’s cool and think they are better engaged with the vehicle (with a manual). We see that in that customer that you may not see in other vehicle segments.

In addition, Ford believes U.S. consumers may not find the dual-clutch automatic offered with the engine elsewhere to their liking, citing customer reaction toward the technology — and complaints of abrupt shifting that was later fixed through software updates — behind its reasoning. Last year, TTAC reported that the 1.0L/Powershift combo in the Fiesta was axed, due to concerns over NVH. This may have been the case for the Focus as well.

However, the take rate for the pairing under the Focus may be lower than hoped, which may lead to an automatic behind the 1-liter down the line. In the meantime, Ford hopes the engine more than makes up for the lowered expectations, thanks in part due to its fuel economy; under the hood of the Fiesta with the same transmission, the B-segment car delivers a combined 37 mpg.

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81 Comments on “Ford: Manual-Only Plan For 2015 Focus 1-Liter “Sensible” For US Market...”


  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Gutsy move. Still, it doesn’t mean that there’s no auto focus :), just that the 1.0 will be stick only.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And I’m enjoying all the (inevitable) nay-saying following. Probably from the same crowd who decries the slow extinction of the manual transmission in general.

      The success or failure of this combination is not going to be decided on total number of sales. It’ll be measured on: a. Actual sales against the pre-release projections, and/or b. How many of those sales would have been to someone who would not have considered a Ford product if the combination wasn’t available.

      I’d love to look at one of these when they hit the dealer’s lot, as I’ve been a long-term believe in the three-cylinder ICE. I’ve already owned a Geo Metro (nothing but good memories there), and four Triumph motorcycles. The triple is a really good idea that isn’t used often enough.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Agreed. No idea why anyone in their right mind would want an auto or CVT with a micro-engine small car. Always found it fascinating that someone would consciously buy a Chevy Aveo automatic and then bitch about how little power and response it had. Even better to know that they paid for the privledge of the auto vs. the manual.

        I do believe that Ford is tossing a red herring here with the “belief (that) U.S. consumers may not find the dual-clutch automatic offered with the engine elsewhere to their liking”. I would imagine it’s much, much cheaper in sticker price and warranty maintenance to have the manual.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    It’s sensible IMO. For a car like this, it’s much easier to get the car moving and up to speed with a properly geared manual transmission vs an automatic. This is pretty evident when you drive cars like this in auto and the manual back to back.

    I’m in Korea right now and have an 03 Kia Optima Auto for work and an 03 Kia Optima manual at my personal vehicle. The manual transmission car is miles better by comparison. However, I also know that Koreans suck at making automatic transmissions, so this may not be the best comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, Korean cars didn’t have such decent running-gear back then, anyway. But a lot has happened in eleven years. These days, they’ve got powertrains down pact; it’s suspension and steering-feel that need work, both of which are admittedly lacking in our Sonata Limited (non-turbo). A comparison between newer Kia transmissions would be a better indicator.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Hey, it worked for the Dart! (cough)

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Ford doesn’t have an automatic transmission that would be acceptable for US consumers when paired with the 1.0T.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I’m surprised that they feel the 1L in the Focus is acceptable for US consumers. I guess we’ll have to wait for sales figures.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          As long as they still offer a more powerful volume engine, the 1.0L can be pushed to extremely fuel economy conscious buyers who would be willing to accept the reduction in performance. Since it’s manual transmission only, it’s definitely a niche product, but I think they’ll find the a good amount of takers. Maybe less than 10%, but why not offer it if the work is done.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            “why not offer it if the work is done.”

            - a question that often comes up, especially regarding body styles.

            Clearly, there’s an answer (which is why the US doesn’t see wagons/hatchbacks), even if we don’t know what it is.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Right, there’s a cost to offering everything that has to be offset with sales. In this case, the case was probably favorable enough since it’s in the Fiesta too.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “why not offer it if the work is done.”

            Because it is unlikely to be profitable.

            I can appreciate that this is also an experiment of sorts to see whether Americans will accept this motor, but the experiment is sure to be a bust without an automatic.

            Yet it would seem that Ford doesn’t have an automatic to go with the car. While it doesn’t make much financial sense to develop a US-only transmission, offering no automatic at all does not bode well for this configuration.

          • 0 avatar

            I was told by a supplier that the 1.0L/DCT transmission was killed directly by Raj Nair, who hated the combination. In light of that, I can see Ford’s marketing/PR spin about small cars and manual transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Pch-

            They’ll have a transmission sooner or later. I’m not sure what vehicle is getting the 9-speed first though. One could reasonably assume it would be the Fusion, Edge, or Explorer. Fusion/Explorer refresh or Edge launch (year after in Ford style) makes sense.

            There is also a Ford/Getrag wet clutch DCT coming out in 2016. I think Getrag is moving away from dry clutch DCTs all together.

        • 0 avatar
          srogers

          It is a turbo. It won’t be ridiculously slow.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Since manuals for insufficiently sporty (I’m assuming this is true given the 1.0l engine) aren’t acceptable for “US consumers”, I’m not this makes a difference for car buyers. Presumably they are selling to immigrants (most US consumers who learned to drive stick in this country won’t buy such a thing) who want a new car. Cost might matter more, and the extra performance (still true? between locking slushboxes and lots o’ gears I imagine autos have caught up. I suspect the “good enough” auto transmission is just too expensive) won’t hurt.

        I’m guessing cost was more a factor myself. Who knows?

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          This engine in the Fiesta costs a thousand bucks more than than the base engine. I imagine it will be the same in the Focus. Anyone who considers cost to be a factor will get the standard 2.0 with a manual.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Its because the Powershift DCT/1.0T combo is terrible. Seema Bardwaj can say younger people want to be cool with a manual or that Americans don’t understand how a DCT shifts compared to a traditional automatic. That’s all crap. I like the 1.0T ecoboost, but the DCT ruins everything about it. Once the 9-speed transmission comes out, there will magically be a automatic 1.0T Fiesta/Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      johnhowington

      any proof or documentation to your claim, or are you just coming to the obvious troll conclusion?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I am not a troll, and this is the first time I’ve been called one here. I’ve owned a Focus with the Powershift DCT, a Focus ST, and driven a Fiesta with the Powershift DCT and manual. I’m usually very positive about Ford products. The DCT/1.0T combo is not good.

        • 0 avatar
          niky

          It’s not great, but it’s better than the 1.6 DCT combo (except for the throttle over-run… but that seems common with any Ecoboost automatic, regardless of AT type).

          Wouldn’t be so bad if the “manual” mode gave you better control.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Manual mode will be paddle shifters on some Focus models this year. The current rocker switch on the shifter is not ideal.

        • 0 avatar
          vcficus

          +1 on the trolling, I enjoy your posts and your avatar beats his.

          +10 from my avatar! Any color you want as long as its black AND you get three pedals! They don’t work the same way, but still…

  • avatar
    threeer

    If Ford’s plan is to sell a sum-total of, say, 8 of these, then yes…this is a sensible plan.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      For me the issue would be having such a small engine and not getting significantly better fuel-economy. But I see *plenty* of Focii with manual gearboxes.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      My initial reaction was the same as yours. But on the flip side, Americans outside the top 10% are getting poor enough so that this might be bought in larger numbers than we think — not out of preference but out of necessity.

      Depending on where the EPA numbers come in on this, this might be the only way a lot of people can afford a new car that gets 40 MPG plus. They might not like it, but they might also have little choice.

      And who knows? Maybe this will be the start of the resurgence of the manual, as people realize how truly easy they are to drive. And actually a bit more fun. As my grampy used to say, necessity is the mother of all invention!

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Huh?

        Isn’t the 1L an upgrade option, i.e., costs *more*? How does that jive with claiming 90% of Americans are becoming so poor as to not be able to afford an efficient car? And since midsize cars are the top car segment (not just the top 10%), how is that claim justified?

        As far as plenty of Foci with manuals, the article states that the take rate for manuals in the Focus is 12%-13%, which is around twice the vehicle market as a whole, but hardly a shining beacon for manuals.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          I didn’t say every American will rush into a Focus out of economic necessity. Only that there are more and more people to whom a car like this represents their only shot at owning a HE vehicle.

          Current HEs are expensive status symbols. If I want a VW Golf TDI I need to fork over a 5k premium over the same car with a comparatively thirsty gas motor. A basic s box Prius msrps at over 24k. Add a few options and you’re at 30k out the door. Great for the bourgeois to haul their reusable grocery bags home from Whole Foods in environmentally conscious style, but not so much for the rest of us.

          I presume from your comments that you’re among the shrinking number clinging to the middle class strata. So that probably doesn’t seem like much money to you. Go you. But for the average working stiff who must commute out of necessity, there has to be more options. Glad Ford is recognising that.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “A basic s box Prius msrps at over 24k. Add a few options and you’re at 30k out the door. Great for the bourgeois to haul their reusable grocery bags home from Whole Foods in environmentally conscious style, but not so much for the rest of us.”

            Get real. A Prius is one of the cheapest new cars you can own. Certainly cheaper than a Ford with a transmission that makes it virtually unsellable when you’re done with it.

            Teslas they fucking ain’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Sorry but a lot of people are not in the position to consider a $28,000 Prius to be a “cheap” car.

        • 0 avatar
          TheyBeRollin

          Is this combined for all trim levels? The ST only comes in manual and their dual-clutch is known for being a troublemaker…

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I have to agree with the observation that Americans are getting poorer. My 7/1/14 renewal health insurance cost goes up by $330/month, just for the ACA portion of the overall price increase, certainly enough for a lease or loan payment on an acceptable car. I don’t want to get into some tedious argument on the justice of this – the numbers are the numbers regardless of politics.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Agreed, numbers tell their own story.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          Funny I have no increase with my health insurance due to ACA. Politics aside, I’ll have to question your accuracy and whether you are comparing apples to apples in terms of plans. You could also just go without health insurance and pay the fee.

          Regardless I believe that Ford is not looking at you or me or anyone over the age of 26 for these 1.0L Foci and are looking to the “Millenials” (hate the term) to sell these to. A bit like Scion when it started up ten years back.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            $10-12K is still a maybe if not promising, but the 20 FoMoCo is going to want? Doubtful.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            dolorean – it is exactly as I state it. How do I know? Because BCBS broke out the percentages for the increase and directly attributes 25% of the 32% increase to ACA. No estimate on my part, its in black and white. I am the business co-owner and I see and pay the bills. Going without insurance is not an option.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “If Ford’s plan is to sell a sum-total of, say, 8 of these, then yes…this is a sensible plan.”

      They’ll probably sell at least twice that many. Even triple if they’re lucky.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m not particularly fond of the automatic transmission in the Focus, and it would probably be hell trying to wring power from such a small engine without being able to do your own gear-changes. So it makes sense to me…

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Exactly right. The auto robs too much power. The original Taurus SH0 was all stick. SVO too. Same with the Boss 302, current GT500 and a few others. If you don’t like it, plenty of automatics to choose from. Sales won’t set the world on fire, but OK.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It’s not so much that the Powershift DCT robs the 1.0T of power. It has more to do with the fact that it makes you want to drive the car into a ditch and set it on fire.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        All automatics I’ve driven in the last 10 years, drive me insane. So I’m forced to drive ‘em like they’re stolen, keeping the gas pedal pegged until “I’m” ready to upshift. I won’t do paddle-shifters. If it’s an automatic, I want it automatic.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “If it’s an automatic, I want it automatic”

          but

          “I’m forced to drive ‘em like they’re stolen, keeping the gas pedal pegged until “I’m” ready to upshift.”

          Sooooo, you don’t want them to be automatic?

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            While I don’t feel the need to drive it like I stole it, the only auto I’ve liked was a Nissan CVT (no obvious gear changes mean no obvious “wrong” gear changes). Also fake transmission controls just seem fake, why bother. I suppose some sort of “don’t shift until I say so” mode would help, but it really would get old.

            Note: I’m pretty sure the source of my frustration comes down to learning to drive on two different cars: a (4 on the floor, 1.4l) Datsun Honeybee, which to accelerate you downshifted, floored, and waited for a downhill. The other car was a Chevy Malibu wagon (3 speed auto, 305 V-8, 4bbl) which to accelerate you carefully pressed down on the gas lest you suddenly consume half of the Saudi oil output and cannon off to speeds the steering and suspensions hadn’t a prayer of dealing with. When that thing decided to go back to 2nd gear, you had to be ready (but it was a godsend on some old no merge area ramps.). Building cars for people trained such is like building brown manual diesels, but at least CVTs nearly work for me.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I should never have to think about it. Just put it in “D”. That’s the way they used to be when they were just 3 or 4-speeds. Now you have to drive them like you’re angry. Because you are.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I’m fine with most automatic transmissions. Just. Not. That. One.

          • 0 avatar
            Pig_Iron

            @wumpus

            JATCo seems to have made pretty decent CVTs. It might be just about perfect for this application. It would have to be a joint effort though. At least eighteen months of development to avoid an Ultradrive production launch scenario.

  • avatar
    Dan

    So who do they expect to buy these?

    90% of the market won’t even look at a third pedal.

    Greenbeans who are unhappy with 33 on the sticker of the reasonably powered SFE Ford already has aren’t going to be any happier with 36 when they know a Prius says 50 – all the more so when the new one that will be on sale by then will say 55.

    The $1000 upcharge for the smaller engine keeps it from being any kind of value play. It’s a long term break even at best, and slow and buzzy along the way.

    The three pot Fiesta faces the same problems and Ford can’t give them away. It has a take rate around 3%. It’s an even worse match in the Focus.

  • avatar
    niky

    Don’t know where people are getting that the engine is too small for the car. It’s got 125 hp, and 170 Nm of torque over a wide range of engine speeds. That’s as much power and more torque than the old 1.8. On paper. In real life, it feels just as powerful as the older 2.0. The only problem is that the DCT won’t let you tap all that at in-traffic speeds.

    A manual with this gutsy little motor is a swell idea. Sadly, I doubt the buying public will catch on.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Sounds like this will the loss leader for Ford dealer newspaper ads.

    Say, what was the last car sold stateside manual-only, the Honda S2000?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Good luck Ford, with the Fiesta ST I have only seen one of those around these parts, so at a time when even Aston Martin is getting away from manuals, I think Ford will miss out on selling a lot of these cars. Is it something about this engine and the auto stick, looks like Ford does not want to pair up those 2!

  • avatar

    Do you want to know what will really kill this combo? Try going to Fords site and building one. Selecting the 1.0 manual eliminates almost all options above the base SE trim package. For some reason folks who want a high reving turbo for fuel economy and a sporty manual transmission won’t want ANY other options.

    On the plus side, I do get more people who want manual Focus and Fiesta’s on my lot than manual nay-sayers would have you believe. They appreciate my “save the manuals” mug

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m not sure I’d want an engine like this in the Focus, even with its overboost feature. The Focus is already a heavy car, mine clocks in at a little under 3000 pounds, and I don’t know if this engine would be strong enough by American standards to get the thing out of it’s own way.

    About the only thing coming to the ’15 Focus line-up that I’m interested in seeing is the new 6 speed manual. If it’s geared to run lower than 2750 at 70mph, possibly netting better mileage (which is already fantastic to me 32-37 depending on time of year and my mood), I’d consider getting into one when the time comes to defecate or get off the pot about my lease.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      About the same power-to-weight ratio as as the base Cruze, and Chevy does manage to sell a few of those. The better torque curve of the turbo motor would make some sales, if anyone is willing to try it.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “We see that in that customer that you”

    LOL

    Also, that wall says #1, but those wheels say 2002.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Just a theory… there may be buyers open to the idea of a manual, but never had the opportunity to learn. If Ford is serious about pushing sticks, the dealers ought to offer lessons.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Who will teach the dealers?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s not a bad idea, and something a dealer and salesman should offer on an individual basis just to move the lot poison. Some people are apprehensive about learning out of fear, and there are some who just buy the car and grind it till it fits. Both would benefit.

      “Who will teach the dealers?”

      Yeah, there’s that too.

      • 0 avatar

        I sold a Focus ST to a kid that said he could drive stick, but after a block I had to take over. I made him buy it before I showed him the basics but he loves the car now and we enjoy a cup of coffee on me every time he stops in for oil.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          Current generation ST, or one of the older ones with the Volvo 5 cylinder?

          In his defense I had an opportunity to drive a Focus ST at one of those Ford Ecoboost challenge things that they advertised at the MN State Fair. That clutch was kind of a bi—.

          The caveat is that when I drove this thing, August of last year, I had only been driving manuals for about 3 years and hadn’t had experience with many different clutches. I wonder if maybe the clutch on the one I drove was too new, or maybe I was just a bundle of nerves and it didn’t help.

          The heaviest, and weirdly easiest, clutch I’d dealt with was the 98 Mustang GT my friend once had.

          • 0 avatar

            The current one. The clutch is not pedestrian. There is a definite grab point, which is how a racing clutch acts so it is at home in the ST, but it will feel different than econobox clutches for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            That explains it. I’m not particularly interested in those types of cars, at least not to own. They don’t fit my driving style and I don’t need the performance.

            I’m sure if I had more than 5 minutes to get used to it it would probably be fine, but that wasn’t the nature of the event.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Volvo 5-cylinder? I think that was the second generation Focus that never came to the US.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I bought a VW Jetta with manual transmission when I was 20. I had never driven a manual on anything but a John Deere Gator or similar. I couldn’t even drive it out of the dealership. I had to switch cars with my parents for a couple days until my father could give me a few lessons. Its a humbling experience continuing to stall your first new car in the dealership parking lot. Later that evening, while practicing in parking lot, the cops paid us a visit because people thought we were looking for cars to break in to.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        The Kia that I had, similar to TuffJuff’s, was not an easy car for me to drive. I don’t think I ever managed more than a week without stalling. Since I’ve had the Ford, I can’t remember the last time I’ve stalled. I know it’s happened, but not with the same frequency. I think the Ford is more intuitive.

        I pretty much taught myself, with assistance from forums about timing and relieving the noob panic moments.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I hope it succeeds…and this is probably a move designed as much for CAFE as anything else.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    OMG!

    What is that tall yellow vehicle on the right edge of the photo?!

    Unless those guys near it are munchkins, it’s significantly taller than a Soul.

    Ohh… found it on the Ford site, the new passenger Transit Connect. Had NO idea it would be so different from the commercial version. Serious love.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Transit Connect Wagon.

      It is available is both 5 and 7 seat versions. Tons of head room. I can seee myself buying one if I ever grow weary of my C-Max.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Thanks, yeah, I’ve just been all over Ford’s website and a couple of independent reviews. It’s a Kia Soul on steroids and I’m very interested in the SWB with a liftgate.

    • 0 avatar

      Drives nice and the sliding doors feel like they are pure bearings. I pref the barn door ones myself but the new ones are far superior to last years (both van and wagon)

  • avatar

    Ok, it looked good on the Fusion, but does every Ford have to have an Aston Martin front.

  • avatar

    Watching (US) carmakers going for smaller and smaller engines, with or without manuals is putting a smile on my face.
    This focus is basically a ‘typical EU car’ for the people. This configuration (small engine, manual) is very popular here, mainly because gas is super expensive (€1,68 per litre right now at the cheapest self service pump over here), so MPG or KM/L is essential for most people. I can only dream of the cost if you drive this efficient car in the US with your gas prices. I personally don’t like driving manuals (traffic conditions over here are horrible compared to what I’ve seen from the US), but lately there’s more choice in automatics over here. And you are getting more and more manuals, so there is fun in it for everyone. I’m very curious to see sales numbers for this particular car.


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