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Ford Escort Makes its Return in Beijing

No plans for U.S. revival.

by on Apr.21, 2014

Ford revives the Escort for the Chinese market.

One of Ford’s most familiar – and longest running – nameplates is about to make its return, the Detroit-based maker unveiling an all-new Escort during the Beijing Motor Show.

For those who might have already forgotten, Escort was Ford’s once-popular compact, introduced in 1968 in Europe and 1981 here in the States. It continued in production through 2002, when it was replaced in Europe by the Focus which followed across the Atlantic a year later.

Insight!

The new Chinese Ford Escort will serve to fill a gap in the compact, or C-segment of that country’s booming automotive market – which now accounts for 25% of Chinese car sales — and the automaker hopes Escort will deliver some added momentum in a bid to catch up to rivals like General Motors and Volkswagen. Ford was a latecomer to the Chinese market but has experienced spectacular growth there over the last couple years.

The newly revived Escort shares its basic underpinnings with the Ford Focus model.

(GM wants to regain Chinese sales crown lost last year to VW. Click Here for more.)

The new Escort is the latest example of Ford’s global One Ford strategy, where it shares platforms and products in markets around the world. So, that means Escort is based on the same underlying “architecture” as the current Focus model, albeit aiming for a lower market segment.  The Focus itself has become the best-selling nameplate in China.

“The Ford Escort is a perfect example of how Ford’s global approach can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of individual markets by listening to customer feedback,” said Marin Burela, president, Changan Ford Automobile. “Taking Ford’s hugely successful C-car platform as a foundation, the all-new Ford Escort puts us in a perfect position to serve Chinese customers looking for an alternative and attainable compact car.”

Visually, the new Ford Escort is a blend of Fusion and Focus, with the familiar Aston Martin-like grille, creased hood and somewhat coupe-like roofline. It’s a more basic vehicle than the current Focus but appears to be targeted at buyers in some of China’s western cities that are just beginning to experience the economic explosion that has already raised the standard of living – and puts millions of motorists on wheels – in mega-cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

(Japanese automakers go all-out in Beijing. Click Here for the story.)

Surprisingly, Ford isn’t positioning the new Escort as the econobox Western motorists might remember.  It has such upscale features, on the exterior, as LED taillamps, while the roomy cabin features premium details like perforated leather seats.

Under the hood, the newly reborn Escort features a 1.5-liter inline four with twin-independent variable cam timing, which Ford claims will deliver “smooth power delivery and high efficiency.”

One of the more intriguing features being introduced on the new Escort has been dubbed the “Device Dock.” The maker explains that it is “an innovative central dock located above the vehicle’s center console (which offers) a new way to store, mount and charge devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players and satellite navigation systems, seamlessly integrating them into the in-car entertainment system.”

(GM unveils both the new Chevy Trax and Cruze models in Beijing. Click Here for more.)

For those who wonder if Ford has broader plans for the newly revived Escort nameplate, apparently not.  It has been brought back to life specifically to China.

Ford isn’t the only maker reaching back into the past, however. Nissan recently re-launched the Datsun brand which it will target at select emerging markets such as India and Russia.

http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2014/04/gm-wants-to-regain-sales-crown-in-china/

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