COLOGNE - The Ford Mondeo was conceived as a world car when it was launched in 1993. But it will not really be a world car during its second generation.
The new Mondeo will still be sold in about 60 countries. But it will not be sold in the key North American market, where its predecessor failed to meet customer and sales expectations.
Mondeo is a name derived indirectly from the Latin word mundus, meaning world. It was designed to signify Mondeo's status as a world car and was a precursor to the Ford 2000 global reorganization strategy.
But Ford's world car strategy didn't work the way it was supposed to.
Although Mondeo has been a success in Europe, the North American versions of the car - called the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique - didn't sell well. That was mainly because they didn't have enough interior space for North American consumers.
After spending $6 billion on the original Mondeo program, Ford reorganized again, giving more product responsibility back to its regions. The new Mondeo is a result of the new thinking.
'This is not a world car,' said Rudi Kunze, vehicle line director for Mondeo and Galaxy. 'No, this is a European car, developed solely in Europe.
'If the Americans want to have it, they are welcome,' he said. 'We are not developing world cars any more. It's different with engines.'
Karl Ludvigsen, chairman of the UK industry consultancy Ludvigsen Associates, said: 'We're expecting this will be the first new model that will show Ford is making really good European cars that don't have to meet the demands of other markets.
'Since it doesn't have to meet other market demands, it can be a really good European car,' he said. 'The VW Passat [Mondeo's main rival] has to meet the demands of other markets. Mondeo can be wholly, completely and utterly European.'
Ironically, the new Mondeo answers some of the complaints North American customers had about the car.
The wheelbase is 50mm longer than its predecessor. There is 18mm more headroom for rear-seat passengers and an extra 33mm laterally.
But the Ford Focus, a larger car than its Escort predecessor, has taken some of Ford's US customers who would have bought a Contour or a Mystique.
Ford planners believe there is no room for another model between the Focus and the Taurus, Ford's full-size family sedan in North America.