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Future products: The new Ford has learned to think small

Mon, 02 Aug 2010

Ford Motor Co., long known for pickups and SUVs, will emphasize cars, crossovers and fuel-efficient engines in the next few years.

The company wants to be the fuel economy leader, and federal mpg standards are rising. Ford launched the Fiesta subcompact this summer and will introduce a redesigned Focus compact early next year.

The Fiesta and Focus are the first U.S. vehicles from the One Ford plan. Under the plan, each region has global responsibility for certain models. For example, designers and engineers in Dearborn, Mich., will continue to work on trucks and crossovers that can be adapted worldwide. The Europeans are designing small cars.

With Mercury dying by year end, Ford has promised Lincoln more product investment in the coming years.

The Ford brand will get at least one new crossover and possibly a subcompact crossover. Ford and Lincoln also will add powertrain options to many products.

Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, says Lincolns will stand out from their Ford siblings with advanced technology such as noise cancellation, advanced powertrains, adaptive suspensions and retractable roofs with glass panels.

Lincoln will add a compact vehicle, possibly a crossover, developed on a front-drive platform shared with the redesigned Focus.

At some point Lincoln, after it loses the Town Car, also could get a U.S. version of the Mondeo sedan now sold overseas.

Ford will spread its EcoBoost engine technology--turbocharging and direct injection--across the Lincoln lineup.

The Ford brand also gets new technology, including the EcoBoost engine in large vehicles such as the Edge crossover and possibly the Expedition SUV, sources say. But Ford sees no place in the future for small pickups, so the Ranger will be phased out.

What follows is a summary of Ford's product plans for the 2011-13 models years, according to company and industry sources.

The Fiesta, new for 2011, comes in four-door and five-door versions.

Ford goes green, small, high-tech

Better fuel economy and lots of consumer electronics, engine and safety technology will define Ford brand products in the next three years.

Ford Motor Co. says its products will appeal to environmentally conscious buyers. For example, the redesigned Explorer, which goes into production late this year, will offer a four-cylinder engine for the first time. This summer, the automaker added a subcompact, the Fiesta, aimed at younger buyers.

To attract those buyers, Ford is offering a $700 technology package on the Fiesta. The package includes a navigation system, heated cloth seats and consumer electronics such as MyKey, a programmable key; and the Sync in-car communication and entertainment system.

Here's a look at the Ford brand's three-year product plan.

Fiesta: The 2011 Fiesta subcompact comes in five- and four-door versions. The car could get a sporty variant in the 2013 model year with an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. A restyling is due in the 2016 model year.

Focus: Ford will launch the redesigned Focus hatchback and sedan in the first quarter of 2011. The Focus, built on Ford Motor's new global compact platform, is sportier and more aerodynamic than the current model.

A performance version of the Focus is in the works and could come out for the 2013 model year under the SVT brand. A sticker price in the mid-$20s is expected. Ford is considering an EcoBoost engine for the car, either a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter.

Still to be decided is whether the high-performance, all-wheel-drive RS model that is engineered and sold in Europe will be offered here. The issue is price: The current generation of the Focus RS is priced in the mid-$30s.

An electric version of the Focus is planned for the 2012 model year.

Mustang: Ford gave the 2011 Mustang new powertrains. The company re-engineered two engines for the car, a 3.7-liter V6 and a 5.0-liter V8. Ford also is offering a V6 performance package for the 2011 model year.

For the 2014 or 2015 model year, the car will be restyled and re-engineered. Mustang turns 50 years old in 2014, so it would make sense for a bold design statement at that time.

Fusion: A redesign of the Ford Fusion and its Lincoln MKZ sibling is due in the 2013 model year. The two models will switch to Ford's global mid-sized platform, likely making them smaller than today.

The 2012 Fusion is likely to get a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

The Fusion and Fusion Hybrid enter the 2011 model year with more safety, technology and convenience offerings. Those include MyKey, available rain-sensing wipers and HD radio. Ford adds integrated blind spot mirrors to cars without the optional blind spot package.

Taurus: The 2011 Taurus adds MyKey and collision warning with brake support.

Ford will freshen the Taurus with mild styling changes and upgrades in technology in late 2011 or early 2012. At that time, Ford will offer a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.

A redesign is not expected until the 2015 or 2016 model year.

Crown Victoria: Production of the Crown Victoria sedan and Lincoln Town Car will end in 2011. The Crown Victoria is sold to police and taxi fleets only. A heavily modified Taurus will replace it for police fleets. The Crown Vic is assembled in the St. Thomas, Ontario, plant, which is expected to close next year.

The Ford C-Max for the U.S. market will be based on the longer Grand C-Max sold in Europe, shown.

C-Max: The C-Max is a seven-passenger compact minivan that will be sold globally. It shares a platform with the next-generation Ford Focus. European sales begin late this year, and U.S. sales start in 2011. The first U.S. models will be assembled in Europe. C-Max production is likely to be added in 2012 at the Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Mich.

The C-Max will be offered with 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, and it likely will get the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine.

EcoSport: Ford is increasing its investment in Brazil to develop several global small vehicles, such as the next-generation EcoSport crossover. The EcoSport will share a subcompact platform with the Fiesta. Depending on the price of gasoline and the U.S. appetite for subcompacts, an EcoSport-like vehicle could come here in the next few years.

Escape: Ford will introduce a smaller, redesigned Escape for the 2012 model year with more carlike handling. The Escape will be a version of the next-generation Kuga compact crossover developed in Europe. The U.S. vehicle will be built here, probably in Louisville, Ky. A Lincoln product off the same platform is possible.

The Escape, Kuga and Focus will share Ford's compact platform.

The 2011 Escape adds HD radio and features such as the MyKey programmable key and the rearview camera system.

Edge: Ford reskins the Edge for the 2011 model year to make it bolder and more flowing. Engine enhancements are expected to boost fuel economy. Ford will offer three engines: an EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a 3.5-liter standard V6 and a 3.7-liter V6.

An Edge redesign is due in the 2014 model year. The vehicle will be smaller and sit on Ford's global mid-sized platform.

Explorer: The redesigned 2011 Explorer moves from a rear-drive, body-on-frame truck platform to the front-drive, unibody car platform that underpins the Taurus sedan and Flex crossover. Production ends at Louisville in November and moves to Chicago.

The Explorer offers a new four-wheel-drive feature that improves traction in mud, sand and snow. This feature adjusts the throttle input, engine speed, shift patterns and traction and stability control systems to provide the best traction under those conditions. The feature is available only on the V6 model.

Ford is still touting the Explorer's off-road capability despite a 1.5-inch reduction in ground clearance and a 5-inch increase in width. The new Explorer has a more crouching athletic stance than the previous model.

The redesigned Explorer goes into production late this year. It will offer the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine and a 3.5-liter V6 but no V8 engine.

Five- and seven-passenger models will be offered.

Flex: The 2011 Flex will get a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. It's possible the vehicle could offer a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the future.

The crossover will get a minor freshening for the 2012 model year. The grille will be revised and the Ford oval removed. The top-of-the-line Titanium trim will have the word "Flex" painted across the hood. The Titanium model comes out for the 2011 model year. Expect a reskin for the 2013 model year.

Expedition: No major changes are on the immediate horizon. Ford added some interior refinement to the 2011 Expedition, such as a headrest-mounted rear DVD system. Ford might freshen or reskin the SUV for the 2012 model year. At that time Ford might give it the 3.5-liter V6 engine to improve fuel economy. The Expedition also could get the 5.0-liter V8 engine currently in the 2011 Mustang to replace the 5.4-liter V8 engine now in the SUV.

Ford may discontinue the extended-length Expedition EL in the 2012 or 2013 model year because of poor sales.

A redesign has been put on the back burner.

Ranger: Ford is expected to pull the plug on the aging Ranger in 2011. It's unclear whether the company will replace the compact pickup with another product.

Executives have said Ford might import a version of the next-generation small pickup sold outside North America. If so, the U.S. model would be based on Ford's T6 global compact pickup platform, engineered by Ford of Australia.

But this is unlikely because of the 25 percent tax on imported pickups. That tax would mean boosting the price of the Ranger close to that of the F-series trucks--a tough sell for pickup buyers.

F-150: Ford will replace the powertrains on the 2011 F-150 early next year. The company will offer a 3.5-liter V6 with EcoBoost turbocharging and direct injection. Ford also will offer a 3.7-liter V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 that the company adapted to the 2011 Mustang. All get a six-speed automatic transmission. Ford will put the 6.2-liter V8 engine in the off-road Raptor F-150.

The F-150 will be redesigned for the 2015 or 2016 model year and switch to a new platform, called P552.

F-series Super Duty: This spring Ford launched a freshened 2011 Super Duty with a new in-house diesel engine and the 6.2-liter V8. Maximum towing capacity is 24,400 pounds. A redesign is expected for the 2014 model year.

Transit Connect: Ford will launch the electric version of the compact fwd van in the fourth quarter.

U.S. production of the next-generation Transit Connect is expected no sooner than the 2014 model year. It will most likely be built in Louisville.

Econoline: Ford will replace the Econoline with a large van based on the next-generation Transit, which is sold outside North America. The timing is uncertain. Some sources think it will be for the 2014 model year.

Lincoln's MKX has been reskinned for 2011. Also new is MyLincoln Touch, a touch-screen instrument panel. A 3.7-liter V6 is standard.

Lincoln lineup to expand

With the death of Mercury, Ford Motor Co. will funnel more dollars into Lincoln.

For example, planners are looking to add a compact, front-drive car or crossover. There also is talk that a car based on the next-generation Ford Mondeo could be added to the lineup.

For Lincoln to succeed, analysts say, it's critical that product planners separate Lincoln's design, powertrains and technology from those of the Ford brand. Lincoln will get features such as active noise cancellation and adaptive suspensions.

Here's Lincoln's outlook for the 2011-13 model years.

Compact vehicle: Ford product czar Derrick Kuzak promises a compact fwd vehicle but is vague on whether it's a compact car or crossover. Those familiar with Ford's plans say it could be a crossover based on the next-generation Kuga crossover from Europe. The automaker is also exploring a compact car. Both the car and crossover would be based on the next-generation global Ford Focus platform.

In January 2009, Ford showed the Lincoln C concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The concept, based on a wide version of the next-generation Focus platform, shows the possible styling direction for a compact Lincoln.

The redesigned Focus is due in early 2011. A Lincoln version could come by the 2013 model year or sooner.

MKZ: Like its sibling the Ford Fusion, the MKZ will be redesigned for the 2013 model year when it moves to Ford's global mid-sized platform. The styling of the next-generation MKZ and Fusion will be more differentiated.

Mid-sized sedan: A Lincoln version of the next-generation Ford Mondeo, sold in Europe, is possible. If approved, the low-volume mid-sized car probably would be slotted just under the MKS.

MKS: Ford is expected to reskin the sedan late next year or early in 2012. A restyling and re-engineering are scheduled for the 2016 model year.

The MKS will continue with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 added in the 2010 model.

Town Car: The large sedan will be discontinued at the end of 2011.

MKX: Ford is reskinning the mid-sized crossover for the 2011 model year, adding MyLincoln Touch, a touch-screen instrument panel.

The MKX is likely to get the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in 18 to 24 months. The 2011 model comes with a 3.7-liter V6.

A redesign is expected for the 2014 model year on Ford's global mid-sized platform. The MKX and sibling Ford Edge are expected to have dramatically different styling.

MKT: Lincoln's large, fwd crossover has three rows of seats and shares the Ford Flex's D4 platform. Its curvy design, compared to the Flex's boxy exterior, shows how product planners can differentiate Lincolns and Fords.

Expect a freshening of the MKT for the 2012 model year, with minor changes to the grille and taillights and possibly an upgraded interior.

Ford could phase out the MKT along with the Ford Flex after the 2014 model year. At that point, a source says, Ford could replace the MKT and Lincoln Navigator with a Ford Explorer-based vehicle. It would have exclusive sheet metal and more off-road capability than the MKT.

Navigator: The Navigator will get an EcoBoost engine and likely the 5.0-liter V8 within the next few years.

Ford put on the back burner a redesign for the Navigator and Ford Expedition that had been scheduled for the 2012 model year.

By Jamie LaReau- Automotive News