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Old 08-10-2004, 09:13   #1 (permalink)
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UK:New Focus to debut in Paris; multiple versions to include coupe cabrio concept

New Focus to debut in Paris; multiple versions to include coupe cabrio concept
BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe

LONDON -- Ford of Europe will launch three or possibly even four derivatives of its new Focus lower-medium car at the Paris auto show in September.

The derivatives will include the three- and five-door hatchbacks and the station wagon. Ford won't show the Focus coupe cabriolet in Paris, but a near-production concept. The Focus sedan was shown at the Beijing auto show last month but will not be shown in Paris, sources say.

All the derivatives are scheduled to go on sale this year except the coupe cabriolet, which is planned for summer 2006.

The three- and five-door models will go on sale in Germany and France in October. The wagon will kick off in late November.

Production of the new Focus will begin in September in Saarlouis, Germany, the lead Focus plant. Production of the old Focus will continue for an unspecified period at the No. 2 Focus plant, which is in Valencia, Spain.

Production of the new car will begin in Valencia early next year. Saarlouis currently produces the Focus three-door, five-door and wagon while Valencia makes the sedan, the five-door and wagon. The same pattern will continue with the new cars, though both plants are flexible.

The coupe cabriolet will be assembled by Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina in Turin.

Nigel Griffiths, analyst for Global Insight Automotive, forecasts that Ford will make 490,000 Focuses in 2005 and 495,000 in 2006. Those numbers do not include the coupe cabriolet. Global Insight forecasts the coupe cabriolet at 25,000-30,000 during 2006, the car's first full year of production. Ford did not make a coupe cabriolet during the first generation of the Focus.

Griffiths said the first-generation Focus -- introduced in 1998 -- has continued to sell very well, especially considering it is in the last year of its life cycle.

Ford sold 217,898 Focuses in western Europe for the first six months of 2004 compared to 250,163 a year ago. Ford added the Focus C-Max medium minivan late last year. It sold 86,733 units during the first six months, making it one of the top models in its segment.
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