GENEVA - Ford Motor Co. has started to say how much globalization is worth. The company says the new Ford Focus has a cost advantage over its predecessor, the Escort, of at least $1,000 per car.
If the Focus matches 1997 Escort sales in North America and Europe, Ford will save $700 million.
The Focus is Ford's first high-volume car on a global platform developed under Ford 2000. It becomes a full test of Ford's global platform strategy. Versions of the striking car will be sold in all markets, including North America.
The Focus also provides a contrast to the former platform strategy of Ford's chief global competitor, General Motors. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra will be sold in most major world markets, but not North America.
However, this Astra is likely to be the last car designed for Europe and not North America. For the next generation - sometime after 2000 - the Astra will go on a global platform shared with North American cars such as the Chevrolet Cavalier.
The Astra goes on sale later this month. The Focus goes on sale in Europe this autumn. Sales start in North America in 1999.
By showing the car in Geneva -six months ahead of sales - Ford hopes to diminish the Astra's advantage.
Ford and GM generally have the same global strategy.
Both have charged their European operations with developing their future small cars, while large cars and trucks are developed in North America.