Ford Motor will introduce a high-performance RS version of its next-generation Focus line next year, with the maker expected to pull the wraps off the new model at the upcoming 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
The new model will replace the top-performing version of the Focus line that was last produced in 2010 for the European market. Other than saying the new model will be available worldwide, other details are scarce. But the new Focus RS is all but certain to pump up from the 301-horsepower delivered by the old version.
The 2016 Ford Focus RS is part of an expanding portfolio of performance products coming from the Detroit Maker, which recently introduced an all-new version of its popular Mustang pony car. And it will be one of the first products to debut under the new Ford Performance organization.
That operation will serve as the global umbrella for all of Ford’s various performance operations which, until now, have operated with varying degrees of autonomy. That includes the North American-based Special Vehicle Team, as well as the European Team RS.
Also being rolled into the new unit will be Ford Racing and the company’s various performance sales, service and marketing operations.
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The move makes sense, Ford officials said, as they put increasing emphasis on high-performance products like Mustang and the upcoming Focus RS.
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In the U.S. sales of Ford’s various high-performance products have increased by 70% since 2009. In Europe, demand has risen a more modest 14%. But that’s equally impressive, suggested Ford officials, noting that the overall European car market has been into one of its worst downturns in decades.
Equally significant, said Ford’s global product chief Raj Nair, is the sort of buyer that such products are drawing into Ford showrooms. While the base Fiesta subcompact might appeal to entry-level customers, a third of those purchasing a Fiesta ST model have household incomes in excess of $100,000, and half are under the age of 35, a coveted group that automakers aim to capture and turn into loyal, long-term customers.
A full 65% of the buyers for Ford’s various ST performance models trade in competing brands’ products, meanwhile.
Performance models like the Mustang GT and the recently unveiled Shelby Mustang GT also deliver some of Ford’s highest profit margins.
“We’ll leverage this agile skunkworks,” said Nair.
Ford Performance will be headed by Dave Pericak. Pericak most recently served as the chief engineer for the widely praised new 2015 Ford Mustang.
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