Ford plans steady stream of global, high-mpg vehicles

Automotive News reports on Ford's model plans.

Auto Tech

Automotive News

DETROIT--Ford Motors is bringing global vehicles to North America for the Ford brand.

The redesigned models will begin arriving in 2010, when the Fiesta small car goes on sale. By the end of 2013, at least seven Ford brand nameplates will be on global platforms.

Except for tweaks made for market-specific regulations or customer tastes, Ford has said the vehicles on those platforms will be the same from country to country. Common parts save money.

Meanwhile, Ford has scrapped plans for large, rear-drive sedans for the Ford and Lincoln brands. The global platform had been assigned to Ford of Australia.

Here are highlights for the Ford brand for the 2010 through 2012 model years and in some cases beyond.

Ka: The Ka does not appear to be in the North American cycle plan, although the car has been talked about. Ford CEO Alan Mulally and other executives have mentioned possibly selling the Ka here.

The Ka, sold in Europe and other global markets, is smaller than the coming Ford Fiesta. The Ka was redesigned last year and shares a platform with the Fiat 500.

The conventional wisdom is that the car is too small for U.S. buyers' tastes. But as other automakers--Toyota and General Motors, for example--introduce similarly small cars in the coming years, Ford could choose to sell the Ka here.

Fiesta: The 2011 Fiesta is a subcompact front-wheel-drive car that is larger than the Ka but smaller than the Focus. Sources say production will start next March in Cuautitlan, Mexico.

The Fiesta is the first vehicle in Mulally's plan to build many of Ford's cars and crossovers around the world on global platforms. The Fiesta went on sale last year in Europe. Sedans and five-door hatchbacks are planned for the United States. The U.S. models will have a distinctive grille.

According to Ford, sales volume is difficult to predict. Marketing chief Jim Farley has said that with fluctuating gasoline prices, sales could range from 30,000 annually to 70,000.

Focus: Ford's global push continues when the redesigned Focus goes into production late in 2010. Assembly is scheduled to begin at the end of November, sources say, which means the car probably won't arrive at dealerships until early 2011. That schedule means the new Focus likely would go on sale as a 2012 model.

The redesigned U.S. Focus, based on the next-generation European Focus, will be available as a sedan and three-door hatchback. It will be built at Ford's Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, with secondary production possible in Louisville, Ky.

In 2011, Ford will build a small-volume electric Focus.

Fusion: Ford reskinned the 2010 Fusion and added a hybrid model.

Along with its Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ siblings, the Fusion sedan is expected to be redesigned for the 2013 model year. The three models will switch to Ford's global midsize platform--an evolution of the current platform underpinning the European Mondeo. At that point, Ford will have a single global midsize car platform.

Taurus: Ford's restyled, re-engineered 2010 Taurus goes on sale in August. An SHO performance version will be available with a 365-hp, 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6. A reskin is expected in late 2011 or early 2012 for the 2012 or 2013 model year.

The next major re-engineering and restyling is expected for the 2015 model year.

Crown Victoria: The Crown Victoria is available only to police and taxi fleets. Production of the sedan and two sister vehicles, the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car, is expected to end in 2011. They are assembled in St. Thomas, Ontario, at a plant expected to close then.

Mustang: The Mustang was re-engineered and restyled for the 2010 model year. New engines are planned for the 2011 model: a 5.0-liter V-8 and a 3.7-liter V-6.

When the Mustang is overhauled for the 2014 model year, the car is expected to remain on the current platform. It had been slated to move to the canceled global rear-wheel-drive platform.

Small crossover, minivan: Ford has considered a second U.S. vehicle developed on the Fiesta underpinnings, styled as a small crossover or minivan. That project looks to be on the back burner.

C-Max: Ford sells this small, Focus-based, minivanlike model in Europe. The next generation will be offered in North America, probably in early 2012 either as a 2012 or 2013 model. It is expected to be produced at Michigan Assembly.

Ford is considering multiple seating configurations for the C-Max. A three-row version similar to the small minivans sold in Europe is possible.

Escape: Ford is expected to replace the Escape with a slightly smaller model for the 2012 model year. The redesigned U.S. model will be a version of the next-generation Kuga crossover, which will share a vehicle platform with the redesigned Focus. The Kuga is sold in Europe. A plug-in hybrid Escape is being developed for launch in 2012.

Edge: Ford will reskin the crossover for the 2011 model year. A redesign based on Ford's global midsize platform is expected for the 2014 model year.

Explorer: Ford will attempt a renaissance for the once-mighty SUV in 2010. The redesigned Explorer will go into production late in the year, but it could be called a 2012 model if initial sales don't start until early 2011.

The Explorer will move from an rear-wheel-drive body-on-frame truck platform to the front-wheel-drive unibody car platform that underpins the Taurus and Flex. Production will move from Louisville to Chicago.

The redesigned Explorer will offer three rows of seats. Exterior styling is derived from the Explorer America concept shown at the 2008 Detroit auto show. Ford intends to retain the squarer, trucklike styling of the outgoing model of the SUV versus the curvier styling seen on the Edge. The Explorer will retain off-road and towing capability but is unlikely to match the current model.

With new engines and a lighter curb weight, the Explorer is expected to gain in fuel economy. Power likely will come from four- and six-cylinder EcoBoost engines with turbocharging and direct injection.

Flex: The crossover gets the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 for the 2010 model year. A reskin is possible for the 2013 model year.

Expedition: The redesign, once likely for the 2012 model year, is no longer on the horizon. Ford might freshen or reskin the SUV for the 2013 model year. Around that time, Ford could discontinue the extended-length Expedition EL, which had been intended as a Chevrolet Suburban fighter.

Ranger: The life of the current Ranger was extended into 2011. At that time, Ford is expected finally to pull the plug on the aging truck.

What Ford does next for a compact pickup is unclear. Executives have said they may import a version of the next-generation small pickup that Ford sells outside North America. If approved, the U.S. model would be based on Ford's new T6 global compact pickup platform, engineered by Ford of Australia. Timing is unclear.

Explorer Sport Trac: The Explorer-based pickup is expected to be discontinued in 2010.

F-100: Ford appears to have shelved plans to build a smaller, lightweight version of the F-150 that internally had been dubbed the F-100.

F-150: With the apparent demise of the F-100, engineers will put greater emphasis on reducing the F-150's weight and improving fuel efficiency. Next year, the F-150 will add a 3.5-liter V-6 with EcoBoost turbocharging and direct injection. The pickup also could get a new 5.0-liter V-8. A turbocharged four-cylinder is possible for the F-150, although the timing is unknown. The F-150 will forgo a major redesign or re-engineering until near the middle of the next decade.

F-series Super Duty: A reskin is expected in early 2010 for the 2011 model year. The truck is expected to receive a new hood, grille, and front fenders; interior upgrades; and a new 6.7-liter V-8 diesel engine, internally dubbed Scorpion. A new 6.2-liter V-8 also is expected.

Transit Connect: The 2010 Transit Connect is a compact front-wheel-drive van imported from Turkey; sales began this month. The van is aimed at small-business owners. The Transit Connect is built on a reinforced version of the European Focus platform and sold in more than 55 countries.

An electric version is expected in the second quarter of 2010; production volume will be small.

U.S. production of the next-generation Transit Connect is expected for the 2013 model year, either in Wayne or Louisville. At that point, annual volume could be 50,000 to 60,000 vehicles.

Econoline, Transit: Mulally's global vehicle plan hit its first snag in February when Ford delayed its full-sized commercial-van program. That vehicle, the next generation of Ford's Transit van, will be sold around the world. U.S. sales had been slated for the 2012 model year, eventually replacing the Econoline van.

The plan is intact, but the timing has slipped. Now the North American version of the Transit, code-named V363, is expected to go into production for the 2014 model year at Ford's assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. The Econoline could carry on for a short time after the Transit begins, but eventually it would be discontinued.

(Source: Automotive News)

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