THE NEXT-GENERATION Ford Escort will look exactly the same in Europe and North America. The cars will have different engines and options, but from a distance they will be identical.
Some think that is a problem, a sign that Ford isn't serious about adapting world cars to individual markets.
But the 'two-continents, one-car' idea is more complicated than outward appearance. The shape is not as important as powertrain, packaging and price.
The US and European Escorts will have the same dimensions but fill different needs. The Escort is a mainstream, right-sized family sedan in Europe. It is precisely in the middle of the Ford passenger car line-up. There are two cars bigger and two smaller.
In the US, you can't buy a Ford smaller than an Escort. It is an entry-level 'econobox.'
Ford doesn't need to bother with separate exteriors if the one design it chooses is a good one. But it learned from its less than perfect Mondeo/Contour global car project that it must package cars for the segments in which they naturally fit.
You can't sell the US Escort as a family sedan; you can't sell the European as an econobox.
The European Escort, for instance, will have more powertrains, and a fully-galvanized body. The fact that it will look the same as the US Escort is no cause for alarm.