2010 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Introduces New Focus, Electric Version Production Starts in 2011

Photo: Ford
A More Focused Effort
Ford's star has been rising lately. It wasn't always like that among green-minded industry observers: Not so long ago, they were widely seen as one of the main pushers of gas-guzzling SUVs that people don't really need, and their average fleet MPG was pretty embarrassing. But then, things started to improve. Ford made investments in green tech and it started making more small fuel-efficient cars. The Fusion hybrid is widely considered best in its segment, the Fiesta is bringing a much needed European-style quality small car to North-America, and 'ECOboost' technology promises a downsizing of engines across the company's whole lineup. What's next? The new Ford Focus, which will offer one more fuel efficient compact, and will be the foundation of the Focus battery electric car (and possibly a hybrid). Read on for more details.
Photo: Ford
One Ford, One Focus
Ford's latest tag line is "One Ford", and they keep repeating it over and over again in all of their communications. What this means for the new Focus is that, unlike the previous generation, it will be pretty much the same all around the world, with "with 80 percent parts commonality around the world."

Styling is subjective, but I think they did a good job. It's definitely competitive in that regard with the other compacts on the market.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

So style OK, but what about substance? Is this truly an improvement for Ford? Did they pay attention to the green angle? Will the new Focus be a "me too" car, ending up somewhere in the middle of the pack of compacts, or will it push the segment forward?

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Under the Hood of the New Focus (Mark 3)
I have to admit that some of the technical specs of the new Focus actually impressed me (though I'm still waiting for the official EPA MPG and CO2 g/km numbers). I'm usually cynical about new compacts; new models, especially in North-America, always play it safe and never seem to use the best technology.

That's probably because in this market, auto makers have conditioned people to equate "small car" with "cheaply made, entry level car". That strategy worked when they were trying to get people to buy big SUVs, but it has back-fired, and now that the industry is trying to make money with smaller vehicles again, they're fighting an uphill battle trying to convince buyers that their products are worth it.

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Technical Specs
Here's how the Focus is trying to woo us:

"For the NAIAS preview, Ford is showing a completely new 2.0-liter gasoline engine for the North American market that features [direct injection] and Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) for enhanced performance and fuel efficiency. The new 2.0-liter DI Ti-VCT engine is up to 20 horsepower more powerful than the current 2.0 Duratec I-4 unit while contributing to projected fuel economy gains of more than 10 percent."

Power is estimated at 155 hp and torque at 145 pound-feet, and thanks to the direct injection, compression will be an impressive 12:1 ratio. It will also be E85 flex-fuel capable (good to have in countries like Brazil, and elsewhere when truly green ethanol becomes available).

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

But that's not all! Stop-start technology (aka anti-idling) should also be available (a first in a non-hybrid for the U.S.), stopping the engine when the car stops, reducing pointless idling and saving gas in city driving.

Continued on page 2!

Tags: Detroit Auto Show | Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Transportation


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