Sharper Focus: Ford Teases a Next-generation Compact With Diminished U.S. Presence

sharper focus ford teases a next generation compact with diminished u s presence

Ford may have shuffled production of the next-generation Focus to China, but it hasn’t given up on the model entirely. That’s sufficiently good news for small car fans, what with domestic automakers dropping small car models like a scalding spatula.

The 2019 Focus reveals itself in a London, England event on April 10th, but the automaker’s European division saw fit to post a classy black-and-white video in advance of the reveal. While European buyers can look forward to numerous bodystyles, it’s not going to be close to the same lineup over on this side of the pond. Ford wants the next Focus to move slightly upmarket while offering less overall choice. If buyers aren’t taking to the compacts in the same numbers as before, why not try to squeeze extra profit from each vehicle?

So, what can we learn from this teaser?

More than most teasers, actually. You’ll be able to recognize the Focus easily from the front; the model’s wide grille carries over for the upcoming generation, while the headlights adopt Volvo-like daytime running lights that cut horizontally across the unit. Think Thor’s Hammer, just not double-sided.

A shot of the model’s wheel shows what looks like air curtains in the lower front fascia — an aero enhancement with greater fuel economy in mind.

While the fender bulges remain, albeit in a more subtler form, the current model’s amidships character line disappears for a more cohesive appearance. The rear hatch now features more metallic acreage between the glass and license plate. “FOCUS” appears in larger chrome letters below the badge, instead of the lower corner of the liftgate.

Besides the slightly more upscale packaging, Ford plans to offer Americans far fewer configurations of the Focus — a strategy that also applies to models like the Fusion and Escape. The Chinese production switcheroo, plus a higher average selling price, should satisfy Ford’s beancounters in the short term, though consumers with “Buy American” proudly displayed on their bumpers might be put off. For now, Ford has promised only a sedan for the U.S. market. Powertrain details remain a mystery.

One variant Americans will surely want to get their hands on is another Focus RS. The previous model bowed out of the domestic market last year, and limited European production ends tomorrow. Built at Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany assembly plant, the Focus RS became the darling of the hot hatch crowd the second it launched, and rumors point to a next-generation model with mild hybrid assist launching in 2020.

Focus sales in the U.S. rose 11.8 percent in March, with sales over the first three months of 2018 down 4.5 percent over the same period in 2017. The current generation’s first model year, 2012, was its best — Ford sold 245,992 units that year, but volume dropped each year thereafter. Last year’s tally was 158,385.

[Images: Ford Europe/ YouTube]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Apr 06, 2018

    Who set up car and electronics factories in China in the first place? China? Naw, it was greedy US corporations out to make a buck in an emerging market, and to flog the cheap excess back to the US. The Europeans followed suit soon afterwards. Americans are the strangest creatures. They forget who did what, and how their own overclass screwed them. Sonehow, they believe now that the Chinese engineered the whole thing, and insist that US corporations operating in China are actually pure Chinese, turn out shoddy product, and the entire blame of lost jobs must necessarily devolve to the Chinese, and not to the "greedy" US corporations who initiated the change in the first place. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Is basic observation and logic not taught in the USA?

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 06, 2018

    Yes, the big multinational corporations are the ones that set up the manufacturing in China seeking less regulation, cheap labor, and cheap costs. Chinese will build anything to the price point so if just cheap is what you are looking for they will cut corners to meet the price point. The Chinese are more than capable of building quality products but will cut corners to meet a certain price.

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.