The next-generation Ford Focus, due to hit the North American market in 2019, is set to be produced at the company's plant in China for American customers, the company revealed recently.
With the current model to go out of production mid-way through next year, the Blue Oval announced it has invested US$900 million ($1174 million) in its Kentucky facility to produce the all-new Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, while the next-generation Focus will shift production from Hermosillo, Mexico, to China - at least for North America.
Ford says the "exciting" new-generation Focus will bring more technology, space, and a number of new variants when it goes into production during the second half of 2019 - meaning the US will do without the small hatch and sedan for at least a year.
However, the company has confirmed existing plants for the current model, including Thailand and Europe, will continue to produce the new model for global markets. Additionally, certain variants destined for North America will come from Europe at a later stage - hinting that ST and RS performance variants will again be offered at some point.
Once production of the current Focus ends at the Michigan assembly plant next year, Ford says the facility will be converted to accommodate manufacturing of the Ranger ute (dubbed "mid-size pickup truck" in the US) from late-2018, along with the upcoming Bronco SUV in 2020.
The revised production plan for the next-gen small car saves Ford US$1 billion ($1.3 billion) in investment costs, though the company assures no US workers will be out of the job.
"Finding a more cost-effective way to deliver the next Focus program in North America is a better plan, allowing us to redeploy the money we save into areas of growth for the company – especially sport utilities, commercial vehicles, performance vehicles as well as mobility, autonomous vehicles and electrified vehicles," said Joe Hinrichs, Ford's executive vice president and president of global operations.
While Ford's North American arm has confirmed the introduction of the next-generation Focus, it's unclear what is in store for Australian customers, after the company's local boss hinted the model's future in Australia could be in doubt.
"Every vehicle we have in our cycle plan, we go through an in-depth process of development, tailoring, and so, no, we’ve yet to make, and come out with, a particular point of view on that product, or any other product for that matter," said Graeme Whickman, president and CEO of Ford Australia, with regards to the new Fiesta light hatch.
"It’s not dissimilar to how we would talk about the next Focus, or the next anything. You know, when we’re ready to talk about it, we’ll come out and talk about it. But there’s plenty of water to go under the bridge, there."