The Ford Escort being revived for the Chinese market is being designed and developed by the company’s Australian operations.
The US brand at the time reluctantly acknowledged Ford Australia’s Broadmeadows design studio had been involved in the styling, but CarAdvice has learnt from multiple Ford sources that the entire vehicle is being both engineered and designed primarily by the Asia-Pacific product development team.
“The Escort is a project almost on the scale of the Ranger [for Ford Australia],” said one of our sources, referring to the ute the local arm designed and developed for worldwide markets.
It means Ford’s engineering team in Melbourne has worked on the small front-wheel-drive sedan’s suspension and steering set-ups in addition to drivetrain development. Engines are expected to be petrol four-cylinders, reported to be in 1.3- and 1.5-litre sizes.
Ford Oz has established a particular reputation within the Blue Oval empire for developing affordable vehicles for emerging markets, including Fiesta (2005) and Figo (2010) city cars based on European Fiestas but designed for the poor roads of the sub-continent.
The new Escort, which revives a nameplate replaced in 1998 with the launch of the Focus, will make its debut in production form at April’s Beijing motor show. When it goes on sale it will help Ford tap into a 5.5 million-unit small car segment that accounts for about a quarter of the world’s largest car market.
It will be one of 15 new Fords set to go on sale in China by 2015 and will be built by the Changan-Ford joint venture.
The Escort is also understood to be based on the Focus Classic already sold in China, itself based on the previous-generation Focus.
Ford is expected to offer both the Escort and Focus in Chinese showrooms, though it’s not yet clear which of the models will be pitched as the lower-cost option.
Ford Motor Company continues to be sensitive about the role its Australian outpost is playing in development of vehicles for various markets.
Escort is one of a number of projects being worked on by Ford Australia – or more specifically the Asia-Pacific product development centre in Melbourne which employs about 1100 staff.
The operation is set to remain a global hub for the brand’s design and development even after local production ceases in October 2016, particularly specialising in affordable vehicles for the Asia region.
One of the other projects includes the Everest (pictured above) due in 2015 and essentially an SUV twin to the Ranger ute.