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We’ve been hearing rumors of a new “global” B-segment crossover from Ford for some time. Now, the Blue Oval has officially revealed details on its latest EcoSport , unveiled at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo this week.
The new EcoSport, underpinned by Ford’s latest B-segment vehicle architecture, is the second of eight new models the company plans to introduce into the Indian market by mid decade and will also serve to drive sales in other Asian markets as well, plus in other parts of the world where vehicle demand is growing, notably Brazil.
Looking a lot like a Fiesta on stilts, the latest EcoSport will be produced locally in India at the Chennai integrated manufacturing complex for both domestic consumption and also export, with production in other countries, likely Brazil slated to commence down the road.
Given it shares engineering with the Fiesta, perhaps not surprisingly the EcoSport gets Ford’s 1.0-liter, 120 metric horsepower (PS) three-cylinder, direct injected, turbocharged EcoBoost engine, coupled with a five-speed manual transaxle.
Although at the time of posting this story, other technical features had yet to be announced, don’t be surprised if a four-cylinder engine, a diesel and a choice of front or all-wheel drive options, plus a self-shifting transmission materialize as well, at least in some markets.
GALLERY: Ford EcoSport
The folks at Ford couldn’t be happier with the success of the Fiesta. After pumping plenty of dollars into a marketing blitz for the car ahead of its launch, in just 10 months on sale it’s now the most popular sub-compact in America, out-selling segment heavyweights, the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.
With both of those models having dipped slightly over the past 12 to 24 months the Fiesta has seen a meteoric sales rise. Charted on a graph, the figures look like a pre-bust Enron stock chart. The Fit and Versa continue to be strong, however, which is more than can be said for the rest of the segment with sales of cars like the Toyota Yaris tanking, while the Hyundai Accent, Chevy Aveo and Scion models all seeing significant decreases as well. In fact, the only models that have seen an increase in the past year are the Fiat 500 and Mazda2, both of which are new to the market.
Having dipped below a 5 percent share of the market, the sub-compact segment does appear to be once-again gaining traction with higher gas prices that look to be here to stay.
Crunching the numbers, the folks at Polk credit the Fiesta’s strong sales to unique options for the sub-compact segment, a strong Ford brand, and the fact that with the Aveo no longer on sale, Ford is the only domestic automaker with a sub-compact model for sale.
The Blue Oval’s ‘One Ford‘ global platform strategy will have huge costs savings advantages for the automaker, but it’s also set to be a boon for performance enthusiasts.
The first such high point for handling and horsepower junkies will be the Focus ST, which launches next year as Ford’s first global performance vehicle based on its first global platform, making 247-hp from a turbocharged EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4-cylinder.
But there will be more, hints Ford marketing boss Jim Farley. Speaking with AutoGuide during a preview of the Blue Oval’s Detroit Auto Show products, Farley said that the new global approach to vehicles will allow for high performance versions of otherwise mainstream models, like those offered in Europe and Australia in the past.
As a result, we could very likely see high-performance version of cars like the Fusion and Fiesta. A Fiesta ST has long been rumored, with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder making roughly 170-hp and 177 ft-lbs of torque.
There’s also the possibility of a Fusion ST (or SHO) model. After all, if the Fiesta gets a performance version, then the Fusion will be the only passenger car in the lineup without an option for enthusiasts. In the past Ford has offered a high-performance version of the Mondeo overseas and with the next generation Mondeo and Fusion set to be meshed together into a global product, a global performance model seems like a certainty.
As we’ve seen with the Focus ST, these will be performance (and not high-performance) models, with vehicles the level of the Focus RS unlikely – at least in North America.
That being said, Farley did comment that not all performance vehicles will be global, with special models reserved for certain markets. Here at home, over the past two years Ford has already introduced the Boss 302 Mustang as well as the F-150 SVT Raptor, and Farley hinted that more special home-market models are on their way.
New 2.0-liter 4-cylinder makes 155-hp, EcoBoost engine coming
Ford has just unveiled the first example of its new One Ford philosophy, the 2011 Focus. Offered as both a five-door hatchback and four-door sedan, both models look quite unique but offer the same aggressive front end and high-quality paint. At launch one engine will be offered, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with direct-injection technology that makes an impressive 155-hp and 145 ft-lbs of torque. Ford has, however, confirmed that the Focus will be offered with an EcoBoost engine in all markets in the future. Presumably, this will be Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost with 180-hp.
The 2.0-liter engine is the fist naturally aspirated direct-injection engine used by Ford in North America and comes mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that works to improve fuel economy and deliver lightning quick shifts.
No fuel-economy numbers have been released yet, but Ford says the new focus will be a fuel economy leader. That is quite a claim considering the new Chevy Cruze gets 40 mpg on the highway.
Ford plans to offer the new Focus with plenty of optional premium items including keyless entry, active park assist, a backup camera and the next generation of Ford’s SYNC technology, MyFord Touch.
Described by Bill Ford as “responsible, fun and functional,” Ford said that the industry is at the intersection of the economy, energy and the environment and that the company’s that will succeed will deliver these aspects in an exciting package.
At the launch of the car, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said it was “the right car for the right time, for the right reasons.” Ford, is betting on the compact car segment, which is expected to grow to 25 percent of the U.S. market by 2012. In addition, compact cars make up 25 percent of all cars sold throughout the world. In total, Ford plans to launch 10 vehicles based on the new Focus platform, including the C-Max MPV, which will launch in the U.S. later this year.
GALLERY: 2011 Ford Focus
Official release after the jump:
AutoGuide sits down with Ford marketing boss Jim Farley to discuss the automaker's plans in the small sports car segment
The idea of building a vehicle to compete with the Toyota FT-86 is “interesting,” but not necessarily the direction Ford has in mind when it comes to the future of small sporty cars. This is according to Ford marketing boss Jim Farley, who’s brain we had a chance to pick a few weeks back during a preview of the all new 2011 Focus.
With Ford having just announced the new 2011 Mustang and Mustang GT, with big increases in power (the V6 now making over 300-hp), it means the iconic pony car no longer competes in the same segment as vehicles like the Hyudai Genesis Coupe. (Not that it really ever did anyway). And with Toyota’s entry-level rear-drive sports car being prepared to hit the market, rumors have suggested that both Volkswagen and Kia are contemplating similar vehicles. So we thought we’d ask Ford about its plans.
“I do think the direction is interesting,” said Farley, but qualified that statement and sent the conversation in a new direction by commenting that what he sees as more compelling are cars like the Subaru WRX, which take a standard economy car (the Impreza) and turn it into a pocket rocket. That of course had the gathered journalists buzzing about the possibility that the Focus RS could very well make its way to North America.
The idea of a Focus RS also works with Ford’s new ONE Ford slogan, which is more than a marketing pitch, but an entirely new business philosophy for the American automaker.The idea is to build world car platforms to significantly reduce costs, from research and development to marketing.
And with an RS model being based on a Focus platform, and the new Focus a genuine world car, many of the roadblocks to bringing the RS to North American in the past are likely to be removed with the all-new Focus model, which is set to debut at the Detroit Auto Show on January 11th.
Even if an RS model never does get approved for North America there are possibilities for peppy small cars, from the Focus to the new Fiesta. During a discussion a day earlier with Dan Kapp, Director of Advanced Powertrain, Engineering and Research at Ford, we asked about the future of EcoBoost engines as performance options. Ford has already announced a new 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder for Europe, which makes 200-hp and 221 ft-lbs of torque. It’s comparable to the same power a 3.0-liter V6 makes and is expected to be replace many V6 offerings in cars like the Fusion. Following the 2.0 EcoBoost will be a 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder that will make roughly 180-hp and 180 ft-lbs of torque.
While the original EcoBoost motor, the 365-hp 3.5-liter V6, is found in niche market luxury and performance cars like the Taurus SHO and several Lincoln models, Kapp suggested that future EcoBoost engines will be use as more of a mainstream fuel-economy alternatives in the future. He wouldn’t rule it out as a performance option, however, and when asked if the new 2.0-liter and 1.6-liter EcoBoost mills could be offered in cars like the Focus and Fiesta he said that he, “could imagine them being used as a performance option.”