April 23, 2024

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Future Fords to be 'more American', Focus getting the axe

Future Fords to be ‘more American’, Focus getting the axe

Ford is leaning into its American heritage and concentrating on SUVs and utes in Europe, which will also spell the end of the Focus.

Automotive News Europe reports Ford of Europe will reposition itself as a more American brand, even as it readies two electric crossovers based on Volkswagen’s MEB architecture, in the pursuit of greater profitability.

“We are seizing the opportunity to completely reposition ourselves,” said Ford’s marketing chief in Germany, Christian Weingaertner.

“Our future models are more American, and from 2030 they will all be electric.”

“There is no more ‘plain vanilla’ with us,” he added, noting the company is pursuing greater profitability rather than higher volumes. Ford is also transitioning to an agency sales model in Europe.

It’ll launch the Bronco in select European markets in 2023, start production of the two MEB-based models in the same year, and end production of the Focus in 2025.

The Fiesta and Focus have already been discontinued in Australia, with the company citing supply issues. Both had been whittled down to sporty ST variants only.

Even as it edges towards its goal of an EV-only line-up, Ford of Europe will still offer the Ranger Raptor and Mustang.

As previously reported, the Fiesta will end production in 2023, with customers instead directed to the Puma. The latter will gain an electric version in 2024.

The move to higher-margin SUVs echoes a similar move in the North American market, where over the past few years Ford has dropped the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion (aka Mondeo) and Taurus, leaving only the Mustang and GT in the Blue Oval brand’s passenger car line-up.

Ford has also rolled out new models like the Maverick ute and Bronco Sport crossover.

In Europe, it’ll market its vehicles with the slogan “Adventurous Spirit” which it says stands for the American values of “freedom, outdoors and adventure”.

While Ford has had some profitable quarters in Europe over the past couple of years, its performance hasn’t been consistent.

It also has only one brand in Europe, and Automotive News Europe notes its smaller scale means it faces higher costs due to the lack of economies of scale afforded to rivals like Stellantis, but can’t price its vehicles above the competition.

According to industry association ACEA, it had a 4.7 per cent share of the European passenger car market in the first 10 months of this year, compared to 24.6 per cent for the Volkswagen Group and 18.8 per cent for Stellantis – both of which have considerably more brands, including premium ones.

Vans aside, Ford Australia currently sources only two vehicles from Europe: the Puma and Escape. The latter is known as the Kuga there and is a twin to the North American Escape, which is close to being outsold by the Bronco Sport.

While Ford is culling its passenger car line-up in markets like Europe, North America and Australia, its Chinese operations are running on a different track.

It offers both the Focus and Escort small sedans, as well as a new generation of Mondeo that’s also sold in the Middle East as the Taurus.

The Mondeo has a higher-riding counterpart in the Evos, while Ford China also sells unique SUVs in the shape of the Territory, Equator and Equator Sport in addition to global models like the Explorer and Escape.

MORE: Farewell, Fiesta: How Ford’s city hatch evolved