Ford pins hopes on line of compact cars

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest US automaker, aims to win new customers in its home market with the introduction of a line of small cars from Europe, North American chief Mark Fields said. “While none of us would have planned for the sharp downturn in the industry or the dramatically accelerated segment shifts, we are seizing the opportunity.”

It is hoped that the 2010 introduction of a Europe-designed Focus and other models based on a new small-car platform will boost profit from that program by at least 10 percent compared with the current North American version.

The company also aims to cut costs by selling models worldwide. Ford begins production of a new version of the subcompact Fiesta in Europe and Asia this year and in North America in 2010.

Some companies are smart enough to sell models worldwide. I have friends in the U.K. driving compact diesel-powered Toyota pickups – built in Thailand.

The current US Focus only shares 20 percent of its parts in common with the European version. That will rise to 90 percent, Fields said.

The infuriating thing about these Dumbos is that these all are Fords that have been in production for years. The Euro standards for emissions ain’t far off from the U.S. flavor – and crash test tech isn’t rocket science.

Ford pulled the Fiesta a number of years back rather than upgrade its looks and handling – and then went on to do the upgrades in the Euro versions. As for building a U.S. version of the Focus with only 20% of shared Euro parts? Which is it? Stupidity or aiming for more fuel consumption as the target?

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