[b]EUROPEAN FORDS TAKE STARRING ROLE IN BEIJING[/b]
Auto China 2004 debut for New 4-Door Ford Focus Concept and Mondeo Duratec V6
COLOGNE, June 8, 2004 – Ford of Europe's rejuvenated model range is under the spotlight at Auto China 2004 in Beijing. Centre stage is the all-new Ford Focus Concept, a four-door sedan that hints at what will become the most sophisticated Focus to date. It is joined there by a strong line-up of other European models, including the Ford Fiesta, the Fusion Plus, the Focus C-MAX and the Mondeo 2.5-litre Duratec V6, which makes its debut as the flagship model for the Chinese range.
This show of strength in Beijing underscores Ford's growing commitment to what is fast becoming the world’s most dynamic and exciting marketplace. It also highlights the key role of Ford's European Product Development team in meeting the needs and aspirations of rapidly increasing numbers of new car consumers in Asia.
"Vehicles developed by Ford of Europe are pivotal in the Company's strategy to compete successfully and expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific and African markets", said Lewis Booth, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. "Our role promises to increase dramatically, and the new four-door Focus Concept hints at what is to come for the new generation of Chinese car buyers".
China and Asia-Pacific are now at the epicentre of global growth, and medium sized passenger cars are the core of its major markets. Therefore, Ford of Europe's role is becoming fundamental to the Company's progress. New models under development in Western Europe are now being designed and engineered from the outset to meet the specific needs and aspirations of these demanding customers.
[b]Mondeo Success Today[/b]
The latest Ford Mondeo, successfully introduced in 2003, is now built in China and Taiwan. At Beijing, the Mondeo 2.5-litre Duratec V6 makes its debut as the flagship model for the Chinese market.
Although specially tailored in design detail and features for Asia-Pacific consumers, its modern European styling and engineering excellence are proving particularly popular with Chinese customers and the car is actually sold out until September.
"The Mondeo that we now build in China has been selling very well and setting new standards for sedans in China," said Chairman & CEO of Ford Motor China, Mei Wei Cheng. "The Mondeo 2.5-litre Duratec V6 has an outstanding powertrain and is loaded with attractive features that Chinese customers like. I am confident this new model will further enhance this success and help elevate the Ford brand to a new height."
"Chinese customers favour precision engineering and modern European styling, as evidenced by the outstanding performance of the Ford Mondeo," said Cheng. "Chinese car-buyers are looking for reliability, comfort and contemporary styling – they work hard and they expect their car to reward them, to help them reduce the stress of everyday life. This means a car should be a pleasure to drive no matter how congested the roads and should provide worry-free maintenance. Just as important, a car’s styling should be prominent enough to reflect the status of the owner," added Cheng.
"Asian consumers are no less demanding than our European customers when it comes to choosing a new car," added Booth. "They are well informed and discerning. They appreciate great styling, craftsmanship and driving quality – all core attributes that Ford of Europe vehicles like the Mondeo deliver."
[b]Focus for Tomorrow[/b]
Building on the Mondeo's success, and on the recent launch in the region of the latest Ford Fiesta model, the emphasis for the future is on the medium sized sedan segment, particularly in China.
With the sales volume for the so-called C-segment expected to double across the Asia-Pacific region over the coming decade, the Ford Focus has all the right credentials to make it play a major role in the segment's rapid development.
Based on DNA created in Ford of Europe's engineering and styling teams, the new four-door Focus Concept is intelligently tailored to Chinese needs, and comes with an impressive heritage.
The current Focus is among the most successful products in Ford’s 100-year history. Since its introduction in 1998, Focus has consistently ranked among the world’s best-selling cars and has won Car of the Year awards in both Europe and North America, and continues to shine in Europe's markets.
"We exceeded all of our sales objectives for the Focus in the first quarter of this year, and we've had to increase production to meet the demand," said Lewis Booth.
In 2003, the Focus range was extended with the introduction of the all-new Focus C-MAX, a stylish and beautifully built people-mover that introduced new levels of interior quality to the Ford range. Focus C-MAX also introduced a new family face that is immediately recognisable in the new four-door Focus Concept.
Elegant and aspirational, the new four-door Focus Concept was designed specifically for Beijing and is a style-leader for a new generation Focus range.
"The design progression is a confident and natural evolution of the Ford Focus brand", said Chris Bird, Design Director for Ford of Europe. "It brings into context the Focus C-MAX as the pioneering member of the forthcoming new Focus family."
"We are taking a holistic design approach," added Bird. "The four-door Focus Concept gives further clues to how we are maturing Focus in line with evolving customer tastes and expectations. It is recognisably a Ford, and unmistakably a Focus, yet it is far more sophisticated and refined – more coherent as a design statement."
Ford Asia-Pacific design manager, Paul Gibson, played an integral role in the design of the new-generation Ford Focus while working at Ford’s Product Development Centre in Cologne, Germany and has led the development of the four-door Focus Concept.
Gibson’s objective was to design a unique sedan for the Asian customer that is an "authentic European car with an Asian flavour."
Distinctive and dynamic, the Focus Concept is executed in a highly refined manner, clearly reflecting Ford’s advancements in craftsmanship that are already recognised in the new Focus C-MAX.
With clean taut lines and an aggressive stance, it conveys solidity and substance while boasting generous curves and a distinct shoulder. A low sweeping roofline and fast rear screen angle visually elongates the overall shape and promotes a perception of athleticism. The Concept's distinctive front and rear lamps were developed in conjunction with Osram Opto Semiconductors, and utilise the latest LED technology.
When illuminated, the high output head and fog lamps appear as a continuous ring of cool, white light
"The LED headlamps are unique to the Focus Concept," said Gibson. "The continuous ring of light is completely different to using a conventional bulb and parabola. Even when switched off, the head and fog lamps have the depth and quality of deep glass."
At the rear, a three dimensional lamp design combines the aesthetics of innovative new LED technology with the benefits of increased light distribution and efficiency for an ideal and dependable lighting solution. When lit, they also produce a clean continuous light but with distinctive bubble detailing.
Unique 19-inch wheels fill the pronounced wheel arches, and hint at the superior driving dynamics for which Focus is renowned. Seven spoke alloy wheels also feature polished spokes and a rubber-like insert for a high-tech finish.
Ford Focus Concept is finished in a unique colour, Sapphire Ice. This deep metallic blends silver and blue in an exciting new colour that complements the vehicle's contemporary styling.
[b]Focus for Growth[/b]
"Home to more than half of humanity, the Asia-Pacific region is infinitely diverse and our efforts recognise that," said Mark Schulz, Ford Motor Company executive vice president for Ford Asia-Pacific and Africa. "Over the coming year, new Focus will go into production at multiple locations across the region, and at each site you’ll see increased local sourcing and an integrated manufacturing approach to serve the region’s needs."
"People are going to see that at Ford we really do think globally and act locally. The new Focus is going to show we’re at home everywhere we go," Schulz explained. "We want to open up a design dialogue with Chinese consumers. So with this leading-edge sedan – we’re exploring what it will take to meet China’s future needs. It is our interpretation of a family sedan for the 21st Century."
Lewis Booth added: "We’re proud that the Ford Focus Concept is being unveiled in Beijing. It is a challenging environment, where customers demand innovative new vehicles with leading-edge technology, contemporary design and premium quality."
"As we are preparing to bring Europe's own new Ford Focus to the world stage later this year, we are encouraged by the response in Asia to our existing European models like Mondeo and Fiesta," he added. "We have high expectations for the Focus Concept and are determined to grow the model's peerless reputation for dependability, style and driving quality with the coming new generation"