By on April 5, 2018

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?

Image: Ford Europe

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.

Image: Ford Europe

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.

Image: Ford Europe

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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53 Comments on “Sharper Focus: Ford Teases a Next-generation Compact With Diminished U.S. Presence...”


  • avatar
    tallguy130

    Wonder what the China tariffs will do to the sticker price….

    Not that I’m running out to get a car built in China.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Should be interesting times for the UAW: do they keep supporting their traditionally allied party that has sold them out via NAFTA, WTO, and tried to to it again with TPP, or do they support the new guy that is proposing at least on surface moves that protects their jobs.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think enough of the membership knows if they continue as they had been politically, its dasvidania comrade. They voted for the President because he was *not* a Republican and believed he might do something about the enormous economic problems of the past twenty years. I can’t fathom why any union member would have cast a vote for the Wicked Witch after what’s happened since NAFTA and GATT, both of which were supported by Bill’s administration. You’ve got to have inhaled too much lead if you work an assembly line and cannot make those connections.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Why not a car from China? Do you own or use a cell phone, computer, light bulb, air conditioner etc. made in China?
      Globalization will not be rolled back to the 1950’s when USA was manufacturing juggernaut.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah because a 400 dollar electronic device that I get a max of 2 years of use out (Maybe) of is just like the thing I drop 40 grand on and expect to last a decade. Besides, not sure where my current Sony phone was assembled, but my last one was South Korean.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Because some of us still care that our friends, neighbors and family have work. Because some of us prefer not to see our national wealth get drained. Because some of us prefer not to see our country prostrate its security and independence to another country that is neither friend nor ally.

        Yes, some of the goods I buy unfortunately come from China. If I had a 100% choice in the matter, virtually all of my purchases would be from the US. Until “fair trade” is a thing with China, I’ll continue to make a preference to American-made goods. $300B leaving our shores annually is not “balanced” trade. Giving up our technological know-how is not “fair” trade. Forcing us into JVs with companies with ties to the Chinese government is not “fair” trade.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Ober

        Of course. But that is NOT what is expected.
        A LEVEL playing field is needed.

        What crazy person is OK with a 2% tariff on cars China > USA
        and a 25% tariff on cars going USA > China.

        If this type of insanity is buried in other trade rules / minutia, should not it be fixed?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Ford has a Focus plant in Thailand. The Thai’s earn less than their Chinese counterparts.

      I would think most parts made for both plants would be from a common supplier. So, why not assemble them in Thailand?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    If this is the production Focus, the hatchback version looks very similar to the Mazda3, shape-wise. That’s a good thing.

    https://goo.gl/wifQRx

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If it still has that awful DCT, forget it.

  • avatar
    Ultraviolet Thunder

    I refuse to buy a Chinese made vehicle. I have only bought Fords in the past but I won’t anymore if this continues; and certainly my next purchase in this segment won’t be a new Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I refuse to buy a Chinese made vehicle.”

      Not being a smartie here, but why, exactly?

      Obviously we all buy other Chinese-made goods, so what makes a car any different? Is it the price, or the relative number of labor hours that have been outsourced from North America?

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        Do people trust their lives with other Chinese-made goods, as they would with a Chinese-made car? Obviously not. So why should a car *not* be considered different from all the other kinds of crappy Chinese goods?

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          This is probably the crowd that finances their iPhones for 7 years just like their car so it is likely the same for them to include the trade in at 18 months with the giant hit on negative equity. Yes, a 40,000 dollar purchase that as you have pointed out, your life may depend on is different than a 400 dollar consumer electronic device that may last 2 years.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It’s not as if they haven’t been building cars there forever, you know.

            Your concern isn’t unfounded, but I have a feeling it’s a bit overblown.

        • 0 avatar
          Ce he sin

          Yes, they do. Plenty of Chinese ships out there which appear to manage to stay afloat. Also plenty of Chinese made trains which seem to stay on the rails.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Decent chunks of Boeing aircraft are made in China today too. Don’t see them falling out of the sky.

            The Chinese will build to any standard you are willing to pay for. From lead painted kid’s toy level to iPhones. Cars are no different. I wouldn’t buy a domestic Chinese car, but a Volvo built for export?? They probably bolt them together better than the Swedes do.

          • 0 avatar
            Asdf

            A Volvo built in China for export IS a domestic Chinese car, as Volvo is a Chinese automaker and China is Volvo’s domestic market.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Asdf,
          The US made Ford Mustang is only a 3 Star safety rated vehicle, this is now on par with the worst Chinese pickups we get.

          I do believe you are one of those that underestimates the enemy, because it makes you feel good.

          Here’s a hint, don’t ever get into a blue, as you’ll get your ass kicked because you are poor at risk assessing.

          • 0 avatar
            Asdf

            “The enemy”, now there’s a concession I wasn’t expecting to see from a bleeding heart globalist…

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I’m the same way on principle. I’ve a lot of Chinese made products, but less than most people. If there’s a decent non-Chinese alternative, I go that route.
      Right now, there are a lot of alternatives to a Chinese made car.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    It remains to be seen whether the new Focus will be a massive flop in Europe due to people reading about the car online and thinking even the European version will be built in China. Because one thing’s for certain, a Chinese Focus will be a gargantuan flop in the US, and will damage the Ford brand so much that Ford may not even survive (the remains of a bankrupt Ford will of course be attractive for a Chinese automaker to buy on the cheap).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “Because one thing’s for certain, a Chinese Focus will be a gargantuan flop in the US, and will damage the Ford brand so much that Ford may not even survive”

      I can’t tell if you’re serious or not. Because that’s really far-fetched.

      The Focus is already an auxiliary product for Ford. It doesn’t sell all that well, it isn’t very profitable, and–aside from the FoST and FoRS versions–it tends to sell to an audience that, like with most compact cars, is indifferent as to where it’s assembled. It’s a commodity car. In fact, I’m almost convinced this is the last Focus we’ll see here, unless gas prices take a huge hike. So even once it arrives and some red-faced journalists start shouting about, “OMG, it’s Chinese!” it won’t be the sensational news you think it will.

      Now, I could see your point if they shifted their truck line to Chinese production facilities.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I agree with that. I’m not a huge fan of it but honestly the Focus buyer is the least likely to care among Ford’s customers and if it fails they stand to lose far less then setting up manufacturing domestically. The low appetite for small cars from domestic automakers means that this is likely the only way such products will continue to exist. I’m not a fan but it is a reality.

        • 0 avatar
          TTACFanatic

          You’re making a huge assumption … that it even comes to the US. With a brand spanking new tariff and looming trade war, there is little incentive to bring the new model over at all, and it not like Ford hasn’t done it before.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Gas in the Toledo area just hit $2.699, which I haven’t seen in a couple years.

        $4/gallon by summer’s end? Hope not!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Kyree,
        I think people have more faith in brand names for vehicles out of China.

        Here in Australia we have Chinese branded vehicles and their is little support for them so far.

    • 0 avatar
      Ce he sin

      No idea what would happen in America but I doubt if too many European buyers would be that concerned by a Chinese Focus. Ford source the Ka+ from India after all and that doesn’t seem to bother buyers unduly.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Asdf,
      Why are you “talking” BS? Really mate. The EU Focus will be Chinese? Provide the link, then supporting this.

      https://www.just-auto.com/news/ford-australia-2019-focus-likely-to-come-from-europe-report_id178622.aspx

      WTF? You are really not good at this, are you?

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        Thanks for inadvertently proving my point. Many people don’t read things very carefully, so they don’t get the whole story, and (just like you) they therefore draw the wrong conclusion. Which is exactly why I wrote about “people reading about the car online and thinking even the European version will be built in China”, because many Europeans will certainly have skimmed a couple of articles online about the Focus being built in China, without observing that this applies to the version sold in the US and not to the one sold in Europe. And because of that, they will (understandably) refuse to buy the EU Focus because they will BELIEVE it is made in China.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “So, what can we learn from this teaser?”

    That sadly, the LED running light fad is still a thing.

    The “F O C U S” lettering across the back remind me of those self-stick letters at AutoZone.

  • avatar
    raph

    Glad to see Ford’s in bed with Michelin still!

  • avatar

    I will never buy another Ford made in Mexico, China, Germany, Russia or England. Never ever. I will rather keep my 2014 Fusion forever, forever together.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here’s a link showing the new Focus on the road, with some of the usual manufacturers camo.

    https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-news/ford-focus-2019-spied-testing-in-europe-56747

  • avatar
    AK

    All the talk about it being Chinese made…

    I’ve had two Focus STs. One was bought back for full value by Ford. Both had/have a bunch of quality control issues and they were assembled in Michigan.

    Point is, I doubt Chinese workers could do much worse.

  • avatar
    EX35

    I don’t get the DCT hate. I may be in the minority, but I was thoroughly impressed with it in the last Focus I rented. Much better than the mushy, slow shifting autos in the Hyundais I’ve had the unfortunate luck to rent.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      I’ve had 3 different automatic Focus loaners. All under 30k miles.

      The transmission was bad in every one of them. The most concerning issue was the way it would continue to accelerate when you’d let off the gas.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      DCT hate is real as shown by a settled class actions lawsuit, and Ford’s reluctance to put it in any new US model since its introduction in 2008 (the Ecosport being the most glaring).

  • avatar

    Why are so many modern Fords scoring so poorly in crash tests? Even the cancelled Chrysler 200 has better crash scores than most Fords. The Escape just finished in last place among CUVs in recent government crash tests. Before Hackett cancels fine cars like the Fusion and MKZ maybe he should first find a way to make Ford SUVs decent again.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Big Al–This site had an article a while back saying that the next Focus would likely come from China since there is not enough profit to make them in the US. It also said that China has a large plant that makes Focus. I don’t find that hard to believe since the Focus is a low profit vehicle and China already makes them. The Buick Envision is also made in China because they already make this same vehicle in China for the Chinese market. I don’t believe that most who buy compact or subcompact cars are as interested as to where it is made as to how much it will cost. As for the EU version nothing has been stated that they will be made in China. Originally the US version of the Focus and Fiesta was going to be made in Mexico but Mark Fields nixed that when President Trump said that he would retaliate with tariffs. Now the Fiesta will not be available in the US and the Focus will be made in China.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    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?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    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.

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