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Auto blogMon, 23 Jun 2014 18:30:00 EST
"Ford opened 88 dealerships in China last year." "Ford opened 88 dealerships in China during the first half of 2014." "Ford opened 88 dealerships in China last month." None of those statements - even the last one - would seem unbelievable. Saying "Ford opened up 88 dealerships in China last Thursday," though, is a bit more dramatic.
Yes, on June 19 alone, Ford opened the doors on nearly 100 showrooms in the People's Republic, boosting the Blue Oval's total presence in the country to 750 dealerships. Of course, while an overabundance of dealers in the US proved troublesome for American manufacturers back in 2008 and 2009, there's no such concern in China. Considering the country's huge population and the breakneck pace of the local auto industry, you could be forgiven for being surprised Ford only has 750 outlets at this stage.
What's notable about this most recent push, besides the sheer volume of new stores, is their location. Over three-quarters of the new dealerships are in so-called Tier 4 cities, which are smaller towns that still contain millions of people. This fits with Ford's strategy in China of avoiding the bigger battlegrounds that are already dominated by competitors and focusing on setting up shop in newer markets that may have been overlooked, according to Automotive News.
Ford looks to be working on a new SUV version of its global Ranger pickup truck. An early prototype of a seven-passenger SUV based on the Ranger has been spotted testing in Australia, and word has it buyers in the region could expect to see the model in showrooms as soon as 2014, where it could sail under the Endeavour or Everest badges. Ford Australia currently sells the Territory SUV, so there's some chance that this model could be a successor to that throne, as well.
Whatever it's called, the long-roof Ranger will feature a shorter wheelbase and more ground clearance than its pickup twin, giving the machine a bit more off-road functionality. (And here we thought we couldn't want the global Ranger any more than we already do.) While this particular vehicle sports a Territory back half grafted onto a Ranger front end, odds are a public reveal of the finished product could occur as soon as the second half of 2014, making it a 2015 model. Head over to Carsguide.com.au for a closer look.
That handsome fellow you see above is the 2015 Ford Focus sedan. We liked the looks of the 2014 Focus, and the updates for 2015 only improve things to our eyes, with the adoption of the Aston Martin-inspired grille that has been permeating Ford's lineup these last few years. Sweeping, slightly bulbous headlamps join a revised, more demure lower grille opening to round out the styling updates up front. The rest of the car's look is just slightly massaged, including new taillamp clusters that look much like they did last year.
New for 2015 is the availability of Ford's 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission. There's also a new SE Sport Package that adds more aggressive suspension tuning, paddle shifters (when equipped with Ford's six-speed dual-clutch automatic) and a few body kit bits and pieces. Rounding out the mechanical changes are an updated electronic steering rack that promises better feel, suspension tweaks to make the ride more comfortable and some software updates designed to make the dual-clutch gearbox better behave itself.
In addition, inside there are a few interior upgrades, as well as some added comfort and safety tech that includes available blind-spot detection and lane-keeping assist, along with other more incremental changes that all add up to a better vehicle. We suggest you check out the official press release below for all the details, but not before scrolling through our image gallery of live shots above.