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Ford sends Mustang, Edge to Europe

Thu, 06 Sep 2012

Ford plans to export the Mustang to Europe, and it will likely be the next generation of the famous pony car due within a couple of years.

It has also shown redesigned compact and full-size vans it will sell in the United States by 2014.

The automaker also showed a lightly restyled Fiesta and a high-performance ST model that go on sale in Europe later this year. The restyling will likely trickle down to the U.S. version. But Ford is not confirming-yet-that we will get the Fiesta ST. Ford plans to reveal details about the U.S. Fiesta later this year.

And, European buyers will get the Edge five-seat crossover from the U.S. product lineup, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said.

The product announcements on Thursday were part of a big show for Ford's European dealers and customers. Ford is launching a new-product offensive in Europe to counteract a drop in sales and financial losses. All automakers in Europe are being battered by weak economies.

Ford showed its full lineup of redesigned vans in Amsterdam.

Product push

Here are the product details:

-- Transit van: Ford revealed the redesigned full-size Transit van. The rear-drive van will replace the Econoline van in the United States and will be built in Ford's plant in Kansas City. The new Transit goes on sale in Europe about a year from now and will launch in the U.S. market a few months later. There will be passenger, cargo and high-roof cargo versions..

The passenger version of the Ford Transit Connect is sold under the Tourneo name in Europe.

-- Transit Connect van: The small van, which Ford now sells in the United States for commercial use, has been redesigned. The redesigned Transit Connect, which uses sliding side doors, launches in Europe in fall 2013, a U.S. debut to follow a few months later.

Ford currently builds the Transit Connect in Turkey but plans to move the van to a plant in Valencia, Spain. The Valencia plant will provide the Transit Connect cargo and Transit Connect wagon passenger versions of the van to U.S. dealers.

Ford insiders note that the Transit Connect's use of sliding doors helps explain why U.S. product planners chose to make the C-Max wagon a hybrid-only vehicle for this market.

At the event in Amsterdam on Thursday, Ford also briefly showed a smaller, B-segment (Fiesta size) concept van named Tourneo Courier. If put into production, Ford would also build a Transit cargo version, Ford Europe product development chief Barb Samardzich said. In Europe, Ford sells passenger versions of its vans under the Tourneo brand.

The Ford Fiesta gets a three-cylinder engine.

-- Fiesta: Ford's B-segment Fiesta gets a new grille this fall that mimics the look of the Taurus and new Fusion (called the Mondeo in Europe). The Fiesta will also get Ford's 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which comes in 99- and 123-hp versions-the U.S. Fiesta is expected to get the 123-hp engine next year. Ford is also loading the Fiesta with technology-Sync, low-speed collision prevention, emergency notification and MyKey audio and speed limiting.

The Fiesta ST goes on sale in Europe early in 2013. It packs a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine rated at 180 hp and runs from 0 to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds.

The wagon version of the Ford Mondeo--Fusion in the U.S.--is popular with European buyers.

-- Mondeo: The redesigned Mondeo for Europe is a near carbon copy of the new Fusion for the U.S. market. But European buyers can choose wagon and five-door body styles-U.S. buyers only get the sedan. In Europe, the wagon accounts for about 60 percent of Mondeo sales. Europeans will also get choices of diesel engines, an all-wheel-drive system and a hybrid version-although it won't be a plug-in hybrid, which Ford will sell in the United States. Ford will also offer the 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the Mondeo.

Ford will sell the EcoSport in Europe.

-- EcoSport: Ford announced it will sell the B-segment crossover, developed in Brazil, in Europe. But it did not commit to selling the EcoSport in the U.S. market. The EcoSport will sit beneath the redesigned Kuga (Escape in the United States) in Ford's off-roader lineup in Europe. Ford says the EcoSport goes on sale in Europe by the end of 2013.

Following the U.S. playbook

Ford's European strategy is similar to the plan it has used in the United States since 2008 when auto sales collapsed. The key points are:

-- Push the launch of new technologies, such as the Sync voice-control system and fuel-saving EcoBoost engines.

-- Aggressively launch redesigned vehicles in virtually all market segments.

-- Use the combination of new designs and technologies to minimize the need for high-cost incentives to sell cars, raising transaction prices and profits.

By Dale Jewett