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Europe likely source for Ford Focus

German accent: Ford Australia's next Focus is likely to be made in Saarlouis, Germany - at least initially.

Like Fiesta, next Ford Focus expected to come first from Europe, then Thailand

Ford logo25 Aug 2010


FIRST it was to be built in Melbourne, and then Thailand was strongly rumoured to be the supplier, but now it is highly likely that the next-generation Focus will initially come from a European production facility when it is released in Australia in the third quarter of 2011.

But the Saarlouis, Germany, sourcing of Ford’s all-important new small car will only be a stopgap, as the second phase of the AAT Auto Alliance Thailand site that Ford shares with Mazda will eventually come on stream to supply all mainstream Australia-bound Focus models from 2012.

In the meantime, however, European Focus sourcing may put pricing pressure on the new car as it competes head-on with rivals such as the top-selling Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and the upcoming (Holden-designed) Cruze hatchback.

The latter is expected to make its local debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in the middle of October, before production in Adelaide starts in the first half of next year.

Ford’s reliance on Europe to supply Australia with the next Focus ends uncertainty for the Broadmeadows team. Supplies for the existing Mk2 model from Pretoria in South Africa will dry up when production ceases there in early 2011.

As Ford had outlined in a press release more than 12 months ago, this is to make way for the all-new T6 Ranger pick-up truck that has been engineered by Ford Australia and is due to make its world debut in Sydney in October.

27 center imageThe first-Europe/then-Thailand strategy follows Ford’s WS Fiesta experience, which – in its facelifted WT guise for Australia (Econetic model excepted) – has just switched coming from Germany to Thailand.

That changeover period has occurred some 20 months after the January 2009 launch of popular Ford light car a similar time frame is believed to be in store for the Mk3 Focus.

The yet-to-be-completed second, 750,000 square-metre AAT factory at Rayong will be beside the existing Fiesta/Mazda2 site that became operational last year.

Ford says it will be state-of-the-art, with an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles, with 85 per cent of production destined for markets outside of Thailand, as part of an aggressive expansion strategy into the Asian and Africa regions.

Although Australia should prove to be one of AAT’s biggest Focus customers, Ford executives have refused to confirm if Thailand will eventually supply Australia with the next-generation small car.

Nevertheless, one insider told GoAuto that it such a move would be “a logical answer” to the brand’s small-car’s sourcing questions moving forward to the Mk3 version.

At the time of the next Focus’ global debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January, Ford revealed that Focus would be sold in 122 countries after production starts in Europe and North America from early 2012.

Besides Saarlouis and Rayong, the next Focus will also be manufactured in Detroit, St Petersburg in Russia, and Chongqing in China.

Whether Ford Australia chooses to offer the small car beyond the five-door hatchback and four-door sedan guises it currently does (three-door only RS excepted) remains to be seen, although the next-generation wagon version unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March is understood to be under serious consideration for this country.

The Focus has truly been a global vehicle as far as sourcing the vehicle for Australia has been concerned.

Ford already imports the existing LV Focus XR5 Turbo and upcoming LV RS performance flagship from Germany, as it did the first-generation (CW170) LR Zetec and ST 170 the short-lived Focus Coupe Cabriolet hailed from Italy, while Spain was the supplier for the LR CL, LX and Ghia models that replaced the Mazda-based Ford Laser from 2002 to 2005.

Speaking of Mazda, it too is thought to be contemplating adding production of the Mazda3 at the newer AAT site alongside its closely related Focus rival.

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