Ford Focus | TheDetroitBureau.com - Part 3
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Europe Continues Deteriorating for Ford

But there is a small silver lining.

by on Jul.18, 2012

The Ford Focus ST has helped provide a bit of adrenaline in an otherwise bleak environment.

With the European market already in the start of a potential freefall, Ford Motor Company has already warned that its overseas operations could generate significant losses in the months ahead.  But if recent numbers are any indication, the situation could prove worse than the maker’s already dire forecast.

Ford reports its European sales fell 10% in the first half of year as auto sales across Europe plunged to their lowest levels in nearly two decades. Last month, Ford had warned that its European subsidiary would post a loss for the second quarter because of the market downturn.

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“The economic environment remains very difficult, obviously, and we are balancing the need to be price competitive, while remaining committed to improving net pricing, building brand strength and protecting residual values,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Services, Ford of Europe.

The news isn’t entirely bleak.  Overall, Ford still was the second best-selling brand in Europe for the first half of 2012 counting (total vehicle sales in 19 European countries). Ford retained market leadership in the UK, Turkey and Hungary in both June and for the first half of the year.

Through June, Ford has sold 617,600 new vehicles in its traditional 19 markets, resulting in an 8.1% market share. In June, Ford’s sales decreased by 16.1% to 100,400 units, with a market share of 7.3%.

“In the second half the year,” De Waard said, “we have the opportunity to gain momentum with the launch of some very exciting new products, such as the all-new B-MAX, a new Fiesta and the new Transit Custom.”

He added the 1-liter EcoBoost engine, which has exceeded sales expectations since launching in the compact Ford Focus earlier this year, will soon be offered in the B-MAX, C-MAX and other vehicles.

The UK remained Ford’s largest European market in the first six months of the year, with sales of 183,900 units, up by 1.2 per cent over the same period last year. Ford market share was 15.3%.

Ford has retained leadership in car sales in the UK for the past 35 successive years, and been the best-selling commercial vehicle brand for the past 46 consecutive years.

Ford sales in Russia and Eastern Europe were also up in the first six months of the year. In Russia, Ford sales rose 18.3% to 63,400, while market share increased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.3%. In Eastern Europe, Ford’s sales rose by 14.7% to 25,900 year-to-date.

When all 51 markets in the European region are rolled in, the Ford sales volume was 759,800 vehicles, down 8.9% on the first half 2011.

Ford Planning to “Go Further” with New Global Ad Campaign

Maker intent on “myth-busting.”

by on May.14, 2012

Ford's global marketing czar Jim Farley.

It’s time to do some “myth-busting,” says Ford Motor Co.’s global marketing chief, and the maker is counting on a new global ad campaign, dubbed “Go Further,” to get its message out to potential customers who have long ignored the brand – whether in Boston, Berlin or Beijing.

Replacing the old “Drive One” effort, the unusual new campaign — which downplays the Ford name to lure consumers in for a closer look — will be the largest in the maker’s history, with spending “on a car launch level” even when promoting the overall brand, noted marketing czar Jim Farley during a Monday news conference.

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The goal, added another Ford executive, is to use “every channel” available, from traditional print and television advertising to the latest in social media channels, to reach an otherwise over-saturated market.

And preliminary results suggest the Go Further campaign, launched late last month, is already paying off, generating tremendous follow-through by motorists along the import-oriented coasts.  Ford spots on outlets like youtube.com have been watched or downloaded more than 3.4 million times, said the executive, on a par with what the best ads to run on the Super Bowl might normally generate.

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Ford Targets Big Chinese Growth with EcoSport, Focus, Kuga

Another factory also will help.

by on Apr.24, 2012

Ford's new EcoSport - along with the Focus and Kuga models - is critical to its Chinese expansion strategy.

Off to a slow start in the world’s largest and fastest-growing automotive market, Ford Motor Co. is aiming to make up for lost time with an assortment of new product launches and a major expansion of its Chinese production network.

The maker gave a clear sense of the aggressiveness behind its campaign to double sales during its Beijing Motor Show news conference – and a subsequent media roundtable meeting with senior Asian managers.

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During the 45-minute auto show news conference, Ford officials pulled the wraps off a variety of models, including the new Focus subcompact, a completely restyled Kuga crossover and the all-new subcompact EcoSport CUV.  Joe Hinrichs, head of the maker’s Asia, Pacific and Africa operations also made a point of stressing Ford’s $6.7 billion commitment to its Chinese manufacturing network.

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Ford Launches Plug-n-Play Focus Electric on Facebook

Charging across the country with new online game.

by on Apr.12, 2012

Ford will let Facebook friends plug-n-play with a new game based on the Focus Electric.

According to a recent study we reported on TheDetroitBureau.com earlier in the week, young folks are waiting longer than ever to get their driver’s licenses – and one reason, said the researchers, is that they’re apparently too busy online.

So, no wonder Ford has decided to launch what you might call the plug-n-play version of the maker’s new Focus Electric, an online game that will allow virtual drivers to take a digital road trip with their BFFs – in this case, their Best Facebook Friends.

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“This is a great way for consumers to both have fun and learn about the new Focus Electric at the same time,” said Chad D’Arcy, Focus Electric marketing manager. “We want to offer people the opportunity to experience the car now, especially those on Facebook who have supported us for so long.”

Dubbed “Plug N Play in Electric City with the 2012 Focus Electric,” the game allows up to five people to take a trip in the battery version of Ford’s compact sedan.  The maker is betting it’s a good way to spread the word about the Focus Electric which officially went on sale in California last December – though it is only beginning to be rolled out now in any real volume.

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First Look: Dodge Dart

Automaker resurrects an old name for new compact with Italian bones.

by on Jan.09, 2012

The Dodge Dart is the brand's critical new entry in the compact segment.

Two thousand eleven was a huge year for Chrysler, but the automaker knows that it has to fill a huge hole in its lineup to succeed.

With that in mind, the automaker’s Dodge brand resurrected the Dart nameplate, putting it on a new compact which replaces the unloved Caliber in its lineup.

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Dodge President and CEO Reid Bigland said Chrysler increased sales by 43 percent in 2011, the largest increase for any automaker and far above the 11 percent recorded by the industry as a whole.

Dodge leaned on Italian partner Fiat for the the Dart’s platform which comes from Alfa Romeo.

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First Drive: 2012 Honda Civic Si

Tuners’ favorite ride goes on strange budget program.

by on Dec.30, 2011

The Honda Civic Si is available as a racy coupe or stealthy sedan.

It’s not often that an automaker admits shortly after introducing an important new model that it may have missed the mark.

But in October, a Honda spokesman told Automotive News that the automaker would accelerate a mid-cycle refresh, normally scheduled for 2014, to answer criticism of the new car’s boring interior.

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So, we thought it was worth taking a look at the new Civic to see if the criticism was warranted.

This is arguably Honda’s most important model, the best-selling compact in the country. Through nine generations of the Civic, buyers have found much to like. So much, in fact, that the Civic line now boasts six different models ranging from the fuel efficient hybrid to the racy Si, two-door hatchback or four-door sedan. There’s even a natural gas-powered model.

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Finalists for North American Car, Truck of the Year Revealed

Detroit lands no finalists in truck category for first time.

by on Dec.15, 2011

Land Rover lands a finalist with the Range Rover Evoque - which goes up against the Honda CR-V and BMW X3.

For the first time ever there will be no Detroit entries among the finalists for North American Truck of the Year – and only one domestic among the Car of the Year finalists.

The all-new Range Rover Evoque, updated Honda CR-V and second-generation BMW X3 grabbed the three top spots among many new truck models tested by the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury – which consists of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada.

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The finalists in the car category include Ford Motor Co.’s new “world car,” the Focus, Hyundai’s restyled Elantra and the latest-generation Volkswagen Passat, the first model to roll out of the German maker’s new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Ford Sets $40,000 Price Tag for Focus Electric

But buyers will get a $7,500 helping hand from Uncle Sam.

by on Nov.04, 2011

Though several $1,000 more than the Nissan Leaf, Ford hopes to draw buyers to its Focus Electric by pitching the battery car's quick charge times and range of standard features.

With the first of its Focus Electric battery cars set to roll into a select group of California showrooms next month, Ford has announced it will charge just under $40,000 for the vehicle – potentially giving it a leg up on some key competitors.

The Focus EV is part of a wave of battery-based vehicles the Detroit maker plans to roll out over the next several years, including plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles.  It launched its first battery car, the Transit Connect Electric, late last year.  The Focus will be Ford’s first passenger car to run on battery power alone.

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“The all-new Focus Electric is an important part of Ford’s overall strategy, bringing still another option to customers who want a car that is fun-to-drive, easy to own and fully electric,” said Chad D’Arcy, Focus Electric Marketing Manager.

Potential buyers now can go online to a special website to configure the 2012 Focus Electric of their choice. The base version will carry a sticker price of $39,200, with destination charges adding another $795.  But the battery car qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit available to buyers of electric vehicles.

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First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Chevy finally gets in the game with American-made subcompact.

by on Oct.20, 2011

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Z-Spec package will add graphics packages, wheels, ground effects and mirror caps to the stock Sonic hatchback.

When it comes to small cars, let’s face it, Detroit has had a history of rolling out some pretty forgettable products, nowhere more so than at Chevrolet, which has dumped on a trusting public such unremarkable and sometimes crude offerings as the Nova, Storm, Cavalier, Cobalt and Aveo.

Which is a good reason why General Motors’ largest division decided to abandon the latter nameplate when it came time to launch an all-new subcompact — one that finally gives reason to Buy American even if there’s more on your mind than a rock bottom price tag.

Yes, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic does still sport a pleasantly affordable bottom line but the fact is it’s also a reasonably fun car to drive – and one that delivers a surprising amount of features and value for the money.

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Sonic is the new name chosen for the replacement for Chevy’s B-segment car.  And starting fresh makes sense.  Get rid of the old, dated design and uncompetitive engineering – and move production over to the U.S.  The outgoing Aveo was assembled in South Korea by what used to be known as Daewoo.  While the Koreans, now part of GM’s global product empire, played a critical role in engineering the 2012 Sonic, the new car is being assembled at a plant in suburban Detroit.

We got our chance to take the new Chevy subcompact out on the road during a blustery autumn day near Hell, Michigan – an ironic name for a place that provides some of the best roads in the state for testing out a car’s mettle.

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MPG Picks “Vehicle of the Year” Finalists

Awards season gets underway.

by on Oct.07, 2011

The Fiat 500 is one of the finalists for the inaugural MPG Vehicle of the Year award.

Billing itself as the largest automotive media association in North America, MPG members have selected cars from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Group as finalist for their first MPG Vehicle of the Year Award.  The presence of each of the domestics is significant considering California is the home of the imports, a market where you might go all day without seeing Detroit sheet metal.

The finalists for the new honor, which is certain to command broad attention, include the 2012 Audi A7, 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, 2012 Fiat 500, 2012 Ford Focus and 2011 Hyundai Elantra. The Fiat 500 is sold by Chrysler across North America — and built at a Chrysler plant in Mexico.

Award Winner!

The five finalists for the “VOTY” were chosen by a panel of 18 MPG journalist members who drive and review new vehicles on a regular basis. All MPG journalist members will evaluate the final five vehicles and vote on the winner at the organization’s annual Track Day event in mid-October. The winner of the award will be announced during the LA auto show’s press days, next month.

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