Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Black
Number of Cylinders: 8
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
With more and more members of the Ford brand adopting a new familial face, the Focus has been left looking like an odd man out. At the Geneva Auto Show, though, it properly rejoined the family, adopting the now familiar Aston Martin-ish grille that's proliferated throughout the range.
Overall, we're liking the refreshed Focus' look. Aside from the new grille, the headlights have been restyled and now look like elongated versions of the lamps on the Focus ST. Functionally, those headlamps are bi-xenon units, complete with an adaptive front lighting system. Out back, the rear retains the same overall look, which has been smoothed out for 2015.
In the cabin, the second-generation of Ford's much-maligned Sync system makes its debut. Sync 2, as it's called, is supposedly more intuitive than the first-gen system. Ford is promising "one-shot" navigation functions for the system. Saying "I'm hungry," should bring up a list of nearby restaurants. Of course, we'll be reserving final judgment until we can test the new system in person.
Ford had a bit of a recall spree around this time last year, with a pair of issues on the then-new 2013 Escape, followed by a recall of 423,000 2001 to 2004 Escapes because they might accelerate of their own accord. Accordingly, Uncle Sam pasted Ford with a $17.35 million fine because it took too long to inform customers, according to a report from Automotive News.
Ford agreed to settle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accepting the fine but not admitting fault. The recall, which afflicted Escapes with the 3.0-liter V-6 along with 217,000 Mazda Tributes from 2001 to 2006 and 2008, was due to faulty gas pedals that could stay down after a driver removed their foot.
Ford issued a statement regarding the fine, saying, "We take the safety of our customers seriously and continuously evaluate our processes for improvements. While we are confident in our current processes for quickly identifying and addressing potential vehicle issues, Ford agreed to this settlement to avoid a lengthy dispute with the government."
While most of us believe that small, fuel efficient cars are the key to global expansion for US automakers, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of Global Marketing, thinks otherwise. Last week, we attended an exclusive sneak preview of the Ford Edge Concept in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, and Farley told us that it's actually utility vehicles that will help the Blue Oval gain market share overseas. "There is no other segment in our industry that is growing like utilities," he said. "We expect over the next five years this full family of [utility] vehicles to really drive our growth as a company."
And Farley has the numbers to back it up, too. Ford projects overall automotive sales to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2017, but the company's utility vehicles are expected to boom by an impressive 41 percent during that same period. Much of that growth will be in China, where Ford estimates its utility sales will explode. "The biggest opportunity for us globally for utilities is in China," Farley said. "China utility growth is expected to more than double from where it is today to 2017, which isn't that far away." Most astounding is that Ford projects its own utility sales in China will eventually increase by more than 2,000 percent when smaller crossovers, such as the EcoSport and Kuga (sold as the Escape in North America), and the Edge and Explorer, are factored in.
Ford's VP also expects utilities to lead the way in the struggling European market. "With all the difficulties of the European market, there is one segment that has actually expanded in volume over the last several years even though the market is way down, and that's utilities," Farley told us. Ford estimates that their utility sales will grow 65 percent in Europe from 2012-2017. "The utility segment is projected to grow we think about thirty percent between now and 2017 in Europe, and we think we are going to grow twice that rate as a brand," Farley continued.