Ford has injected more emotion and personality into the new Focus compact in a bid to raise prices and claw back customers lost to premium cars, the company said.
"We wanted to make the product more emotional. It's good for the brand, good for the transaction price, good for our business," Jim Farley, Ford's head of global markets, said at the launch of the car in April.
The strategy might reduce sales compared with those of the previous Focus, but the reward would be stronger margins, Farley said.
Ford has copied the game plan from the smaller Fiesta by splitting the Focus into more distinct personalities. The sporty ST-Line has been joined by an upscale Vignale. The crossover-inspired Active model, which rides higher, also is part of the family. Ford thinks the tactic will lure back customers lost to premium brands.
"When they see that it's right, they're not badge-conscious," Ford of Europe sales and marketing boss Roelant de Waard told Automotive News Europe. "If they like the execution of the vehicle, inside or outside, then they are much more open-minded."
De Waard said the new Focus taps into Ford's credibility in both performance cars and SUVs. "When we started to introduce sportier versions, we reached disproportionately high mixes," he said.
De Waard predicts the ST-Line will take about 25 percent to 30 percent of sales, with the Active above 10 percent and the Vignale about 10 percent. Ford also will sell a new wagon version expected to account for about half of European Focus sales, de Waard said.
The new Focus is built on Ford's new modular passenger-car architecture — designed to increase module-sharing across a range of vehicles, much like Volkswagen Group achieves with the MQB platform. "We've reduced the number of parts we've engineered, we've reduced the cost of engineering, but we've offered more derivatives to suit different personalities," said Joe Bakaj, Ford of Europe's head of engineering, "and that's the holy grail."
The car can be ordered with a range of semiautonomous technology that uses a maximum of 17 sensors, including three radars and two cameras. Most models will come with automatic emergency braking as standard, while options include adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assist. Ford says this technology can keep the car within its lane without needing to read road-edge markings, which aren't always available.