Ford Plans to Simplify the Focus as Small Car Production Heads South

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

As it announced a less rosy financial outlook for the coming year, Ford Motor Company repeated its promise to rid America of small car production.

Yes, Mexico will take on the task of building the Focus and C-Max as Ford seeks to maximize U.S truck and SUV production. Part of the plan includes offering customers less choice, with a drastic reduction in buildable combinations on tap.

Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to buy a Focus in a color that isn’t black.

Ford laid out its growth plan yesterday, with the automaker claiming that increased spending will put downward pressure on the company’s profits for 2017. Where is the cash going? Well, self-driving vehicle technology and mobility, for one.

Speaking to Reuters yesterday, Ford CEO Mark Fields claimed the company is being cautious as it pursues “emerging opportunities” like autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing. Offsetting the increased expenses are cost-saving measures designed to save $3 billion a year between 2016 and 2018. Offloading small car production is part of the strategy.

The automaker isn’t alone in sending small car production south. Compact cars have a smaller profit margin, and U.S. assembly plants better serve their owners by producing high-profit trucks and crossovers. Focus and C-Max hybrid production will depart from the Wayne, Michigan assembly plant, bound for a new $1.6 billion Mexican plant announced in April.

Ford claims the transition of small car production to Mexico should be complete within two to three years. That leaves the Fusion, Taurus and Mustang as the brand’s remaining U.S.-built cars.

Just because Focus production will soon depart the country doesn’t mean Ford will ignore the model. There’s more profit to be squeezed from the venerable compact. For the 2017 model year, Ford claims it has shrunk the model’s buildable combinations from 200,000 in 2015 to just 300. When the next-generation Focus bows, expect just 30 combinations.

Reducing complexity is a key part of the automaker’s small car strategy. Just don’t expect a return of the Mainline and Customline trim levels.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Corollaman Corollaman on Sep 15, 2016

    Tacos SHOULD be made in Mexico, Tacomas in the US

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    • Corollaman Corollaman on Sep 15, 2016

      @yamahog That goes without saying, as a matter of fact, I recall reading data that showed that the T100 was the single most reliable vehicle sold in the US./ Even more than any Lexus model.

  • Never_follow Never_follow on Sep 15, 2016

    Glad to see Ford has gone back to the mid cycle defresh model. It was clearly a great success for them in the 90's.

  • Kosmo Love it. Can I get one with something other than Subaru's flat four?
  • M B When the NorthStar happened, it was a part of GM's "rebuilding" of the Cadillac brand. Money to finance it was shuffled from Oldsmobile, which resulted in Olds having to only facelift its products, which BEGAN its slide down the mountain. Olds stagnated in product and appearances.First time I looked at the GM Parts illustration of a NorthStar V-8, I was impressed AND immediately saw the many things that were expensive, costly to produce, and could have been done less expensively. I saw it as an expensive disaster getting ready to happen. Way too much over-kill for the typical Cadillac owner of the time.Even so, there were a few areas where cost-cutting seemed to exist. The production gasket/seal between the main bearing plate and the block was not substantial enough to prevent seeps. At the time, about $1500.00 to fix.In many ways, the NS engine was designed to make far more power than it did. I ran across an article on a man who was building kits to put the NS in Chevy S-10 pickups. With his home-built 4bbl intake and a 600cfm Holley 4bbl, suddenly . . . 400 horsepower resulted. Seems the low hood line resulted in manifolding compromises which decreased the production power levels.GM was seeking to out-do its foreign competitors with the NS design and execution. In many ways they did, just that FEW people noticed.
  • Redapple2 Do Hybrids and be done with it.
  • Redapple2 Panamera = road porn.
  • Akear What an absurd strategy. They are basically giving up after all these years. When a company drinks the EV hemlock failure is just around the corner.