Ford counts on new Focus for Europe boost

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A heavily camouflaged U.S. Focus prototype is pictured parked in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

LONDON — Ford hopes a big product offensive in Europe this year –led by the arrival of its new Focus — will boost its regional division.

The automaker will unveil its latest-generation Focus at a stand-alone event in April instead of the Geneva auto show in March, a company spokesman said.

Ford said it has created greater separation between Focus variants in the same way it created distinct versions of the new Fiesta. Focus variants launched this year will include the upscale Vignale version, sporty ST-Line and a station wagon. Future versions will include the performance ST and SUV-inspired Active variants.

Geneva debuts

Ford will unveil face-lifted versions of its Edge large SUV and Ka+ budget subcompact car at the Geneva show.

The company may add a seven-seat version of the Edge in Europe. Its sells a three-row Edge in China. Earlier this month, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said the automaker’s product plan for Europe would include “more three-row utilities,” referring to SUVs. Ford currently has no seven-seat SUVs in Western Europe. In Russia, it sells the Explorer with a three-row version.

A refreshed version of is Mustang sports car, first shown at the Frankfurt auto show last year, will go on sale later this year.

Also arriving is a refresh of the EcoSport subcompact SUV, with a four-wheel-drive version likely to be added. The Fiesta Active and ST market launches will complete the Fiesta range this year.

On Jan. 24, Ford said its European profit fell 81 percent to $ 234 million last year from record levels in 2016 on higher warranty and commodities costs, and the effects of Brexit.

Ford will continue to build European versions of the Focus in Saarlouis, Germany. Ford has announced that the U.S. version will be built in China.

European sales of the Focus cars were flat at 212,806 last year, according to JATO Dynamics. The Focus was Ford’s No. 2 seller in Europe after the Fiesta, whose volume fell 15 percent to 254,059.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com.


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