By on September 15, 2016

2016 Ford Focus

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.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

50 Comments on “Ford Plans to Simplify the Focus as Small Car Production Heads South...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Sounds like Oldsmobile at the end.

    You can get the Cutlass Ciera with either the S or the SL package. (That was pretty much the extent of the options sheet.)

    So I’m guessing this is going to mean things like “manual transmission only available in base 1.0T ecobost, ST, and RS”?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The Ciera was just the most numb, slow car I’ve ever driven. You’ve got no idea what’s happening underneath you. Hit the gas, and you’ve got two speed options, YES or NO.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Hit the gas, and you’ve got two speed options, YES or NO.”

        I recall it being loud or louder. Not that louder had any impact on your forward progress.

      • 0 avatar
        st1100boy

        The Ciera, Celebrity and Century w/ the 2.5 “Iron Duke” was indeed a droning, slow, crate of a car that I never found comfortable to drive. With the later “3100” V6, it was still crappy, but at least able to get out of its way and not sound like a cranky water buffalo.

        When I was an intern at an Enterprise location circa 1994, I might have heard tell about the top speed governor being set at 104 mph. Allegedly. I also seem to remember my boss picking up a speeding ticket somewhere north of 90 mph in a Ciera.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          The one I drove was a later V6, as I recall it had an airbag.

        • 0 avatar
          burnbomber

          I had two, both ex-fleet government auction purchases with heavy duty everything. Brakes, suspension, and cooling. That transformed the cars–both Celebrity’s–from a Buick-like ride to something more like an imported Golf or Altima. Much more feel, better transition in the twisties, and decent stopping.

          Couldn’t say on the 104 mph top speed. I only every saw 100, but I still had pedal left. They were our fleet cars for a couple of years, and I found them to be quite enjoyable compared to the rest. They were better than the Focus in the current fleet if you were carrying anybody with you.

          Still couldn’t get out of it’s own way at any speed above 50.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Once the next generation comes along, I wouldn’t be surprised if a CVT was the only transmission available in non – ST Foci.

      I did a quick transmission survey on Cars.com. Of all the new cars listed, about three percent had manual transmissions, and of those that did, about two thirds were sporty cars. I’d expect that more makers will go the way Toyota is going with the Corolla, making a CVT or conventional automatic standard in their non-sporty small cars.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Others things that might make a difference is if younger buyers will insist on a CVT carefully emulating a non-CVT transmission. Those who would rather own a Tesla might be willing to have an engine rev where it wants to instead of plodding through a range of weaker revs to fit the notion of an old driver’s sense of “what a car should sound like”.

        Then there is the cost. The cost to build and install a manual shouldn’t change (unless ROW is as indifferent as the US market) while the modern automatics (that beat manual efficiency) shouldn’t be cheap. I’d expect fiesta to maintain a manual, and wouldn’t be surprised with the focus.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I’ve driven two cars with a gas engine/CVT combo. a 2014 Corolla and a 2015 Patriot. I’d say Jeep got it right and Toyota got it almost right. If you press down a little on the accelerator in the Jeep, you get a little RPM increase, whereas in the Toyota you got a lot of RPM increase relative to how hard you pressed the pedal. I saw 4000 rpm a few times in the Corolla after a moderate press on the gas, where I’d have expected maybe 3200. In the Jeep the CVT is hardly noticeable, in the Corolla it’s occasionally a little intrusive.

          I assume Focus production in Mexico is sold throughout the Americas. I don’t have any idea of what the transmission take rate is outside of the US and Canada, but I’d guess it’s enough to where a three pedal version is going to be built. We may not see it because of low US demand and Ford’s desire to streamline choices.

          In these lower priced cars, I’d expect a limited number of choices. If you want to buy a $50,000 F150 I suspect you’ll be able to spec it just the way you want. Me, I’d like cloth seats and a sunroof, that may shortly be a very rare combination.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Of that 3%, I bet half were mislabeled. The only way to tell for sure is clear pictures of either a manual shifter or three pedals on the floor.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      But you can still get a deal on that TrueCoat, ya? I mean, if you don’t, and you get corrosion problems, it’ll cost ya…

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      Basically. Options available in only two or three “packages” that include $5000 of bric-a-brac you don’t want in order to get the $700 item you do. No color choice beyond dark or light grey and beige, all interiors charcoal black, maybe with beige trim on some models. No meaningful choice amongst engines, no manual trannies, no optional seating, more powerful motors, extra conveniences. It’s going back to we build it, you buy what we will sell you or buy another car from someone else.

      Car buying getting more boring every year.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Well, it ain’t called the Focus for nothing!

    Side note: why can’t this site keep me logged in on more than one device at a time?

  • avatar
    TMA1

    That’s a shame. One thing I liked about Ford was the long list of individual options you could get. But follow the VW model instead. Don’t ever expect to see a car with cloth seats and a sunroof ever again.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      A lot of the factory options could just as easily be sold as dealer installed options – like the optional wheel packages, etc.

      Honda has been doing this for decades. You get to pick the trim and exterior color. The equipment and interior color are fixed. Then you accessorize at the dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I have my doubts that dealers could offer these kind of options at OEM prices. Any effort I made while shopping about inquiring about alternative wheel options met with, “we can’t do that, those wheels are $1,000 apiece.” Frankly, dealers just don’t care. Just write the check and get out, because there’s another chump waiting to pay.

        • 0 avatar
          dwford

          When I bought my Honda, the salesman brought out a binder with all the accessories and basically just said “now let’s see which accessories you need to complete your vehicle.” He had a nice easy list of all the accessories with prices.

          I suggested a similar idea when I sold Hyundais, but like you said, no one was interested. (They now have no problem packing every car with bug guards, rear spoilers, etc).

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            You need to get to know HandA.com – it’s a dealer website that sells accessories for Hondas and Acura at a discount.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Continental is being built in Flat Rock.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Yay! Even more opportunity to take options I don’t want in order to get ones I do. I think I’ll stick to the used car market for a while longer.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Most people buy off the lot, so having a huge options list serves no one, really. The only person who sees all that is the guy at the dealer stuck ordering the cars. Simplifying the build combinations makes the cars easier to buy and sell. It’ll minimize the crazy customers wanting strange option combinations.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Part of the plan includes offering customers less choice, with a drastic reduction in buildable combinations on tap.”

    Good, as a consumer choices make me nervous and uncertain. I like the company and the government to choose for me in all circumstances. Makes me feel safe.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    Mexico: Building the cars Americans don’t want.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Mind you, the Fusion had been constructed in Hermosillo, Mexico for some time. The line at the Flat Rock, MI factory is a recent addition. I’m not sure whether it’s an auxiliary line, or if Ford outright plans/planned to transition Fusion production to solely be at Flat Rock. Maybe JimZ or Adam could provide more insight.

    I’m not the most patriotic person, but there is something to be said for competitive American cars actually being built in the U.S.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Coming in 2017: the Hocus Pocus model of the Focus.

    It will be an ST with AWD.

    And the infotainment system will play only good rock and roll.

  • avatar
    lon888

    I just can’t wait until that yellow-haired, orange skin orangutan gets elected prez and tries to tell Ford to move their production to USA or else. Ford will be just like Marshall Rooster J Cogburn and tell him to “fill your hands you son of a b!tch”. Laughter will ensue from Flint, Michigan.

  • avatar
    John

    Anyone have solid data on quality of vehicles built in Mexico vs. the USA?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Can’t say I have data, but I’ve had doubts about Hermosillo since they couldn’t build the early Mark Z’s without tons of flaws, and had to send them to Flat Rock to get finished properly.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        It wasn’t like they were running down a line in Flat Rock. They issues with the early build second generation MKZs weren’t due to the Mexican workforce.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Agree, Adam. The Fusion and MKZ have always had good build quality. But, let Ford take an extra step to ensure a critical launch doesn’t get screwed up, and suddenly every car built in at HAP is deemed garbage.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Always? Because Ronnie spotted plenty of cars on dealer lots with quality control problems.

            “the sloppy metalwork appeared to be on all the MKZs that I saw that had metal roofs”

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/lincoln-mkz-supply-issue-resolved-but-what-about-hermosillos-quality/

            I didn’t say anything about the workforce. But even Ford acknowledged that there was a problem with the plant.

            “Ford said that their Hermosillo, Mexico plant, which assembles the MKZ and the Ford Fusion, couldn’t keep up with a quality control procedure… Every single MKZ was supposed to be rigorously inspected. The issue was compounded by supplier issues and missing parts. When Hermosillo couldn’t keep up, uninspected cars were shipped to the Flat Rock, Michigan facility for those inspections, end-of-line repairs and installation of those parts.”

            Bad, but it’s not like they were shipping cars without rear brakes like the early Sonics.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    My sister’s Journey is kind of falling apart inside, but the drive train has been reliable.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    We will see how the new Mex made Taco will hold up with time, the NUMMI built ones were exemplary in quality and durability

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Tacos SHOULD be made in Mexico, Tacomas in the US

  • avatar
    never_follow

    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.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: ttacgreg, Apparently there was an issue in the 70’s or 80’s with several manufacturers who got...
  • MoparRocker74: Im suprised this hasn’t happened sooner myself. Jeep is usually running some kind of patriotic...
  • nrd515: I’ve done the “buy and drive it home” a couple of times, both over 1000 miles. Other than...
  • ToolGuy: schmitt, My dad (an adhesives/composites/coatings guy) got all torn up on a trip to California when they...
  • Menar Fromarz: Ah, you obviously haven’t dealt with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. AKA The Dark...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States