Ford is showing the next version of its best-selling Focus at the Detroit Motor Show. The new car, which doesn't go on sale until the beginning of 2011, will be crucial to Ford's continuing recovery.
The next Focus, which will be introduced to the North American and European markets at the same time, is probably the best example yet of the “One Ford” philosophy, under which the same models are sold in all markets around the world with as little regional variation as possible. Ford estimates that different versions of the new Focus, which will initially be manufactured in the USA, Germany and China, will have 80% of parts in common. If that is achieved, the company should reap enormous benefits in terms of economies of scale and streamlining its operations.
Ford is showing four-door saloon and five-door hatchback versions of the car at Detroit. The rear styling of the hatchback echoes that of the latest Fiesta, which also clearly provided much of the inspiration for the new car's interior design; with its dramatically curved surfaces, this marks a break with the rather sober cabin of the out-going Focus. The boot of the four-door saloon appears to be well integrated into the design of the rest of the car; grafting a boot onto a car designed primarily as a hatchback is one of the trickier styling jobs around, so Ford has done well here.
Ford says there will be up to ten spin-off models using the same platform as the new Focus, including the next version of the Ford C-MAX people carrier, pictures of which have already previously been released. Ford doesn't say, however, whether the spin-offs will include new versions of Volvo's C30, S40 and the V50, which are all based on the current platform; Ford has agreed in outline terms to sell its Swedish arm to the Chinese car-maker Geely, although the deal has not yet been finalised.