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Old 04-08-2002, 07:19   #1 (permalink)
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Next Focus platform to be AWD.......

Next Ford Focus platform to get awd spinoffs, will be used globally


By MARK RECHTIN
Automotive News

LONDON - The next Ford Focus platform, which will be used globally, will have all-wheel-drive derivatives, allowing as many as 15 products.

These vehicles could help bolster Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. lineup. But it is doubtful any will arrive before the 2005 model year.

Ford's current C1 platform is used solely for the Focus and engineered only for front-wheel drive. The next-generation Focus has been co-developed with Mazda and Volvo to be used also for the next Mazda Protege/Mazda3 and Volvo 40-series vehicles. The core vehicles still will be based on fwd architecture.

In co-developing the platform, Volvo engineers were given the task of modifying the Focus powertrain to allow for awd, a Ford source said.

Having awd engineered into the platform means Ford can enter the car-based mini sport-utility segment below the Escape, which is sold as the Maverick in Europe. The automaker also could use the platform to build high-performance variants and capitalize on its World Rally Championship image.

Volvo could use awd to differentiate its upscale 40-series sedan and wagon from the Focus and Protege/Mazda3 offerings. Volvo also may get an awd sport-utility from the platform.

The first vehicle to come from the platform will be a seven-passenger mini minivan to compete against the Opel Zafira in Europe. It arrives in summer 2003. But the next Focus won't arrive until early 2004 for Europe and fall 2004 for the United States.

Ford has proven its ability to expand the range of its fwd platforms with the Mondeo. Although the vehicle was originally built as a fwd car, the platform was adapted to give the Jaguar X-Type sedan awd.

Said Mark Fulthorpe, an analyst with CSM Worldwide in Byfleet, England: "If the idea is laid down from day one, it's easy to incorporate. If Ford uses a Synchro system like VW, it will give them a pretty quick deployment
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