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Old 12-13-2004, 06:05   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford says it will add car below Focus; vehicle to debut in '07 or '08

Ford says it will add car below Focus; vehicle to debut in '07 or '08

AMY WILSON | Automotive News

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. will introduce a North American car smaller than the Focus in 2007 or 2008.

Retiring executive Jim O'Connor confirmed Ford's plans for a new subcompact in an interview with Automotive News last week.

Ford Division dealers have been demanding a new product slotted below the Focus.

Ford product planners have acknowledged they were exploring a U.S. entry for the segment, often described as B-sized in Europe.

"The B-car is going to happen," said O'Connor, group vice president of North American marketing, sales and service. "It's in the cycle plan."

Ford sources wouldn't confirm exact timing.

The vehicle probably will be a spinoff of the Brazilian-made Ford EcoSport.

The EcoSport rides on the Fiesta platform, which is the basis of many of Ford's European small cars.

Ford affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. is leading development of the next-generation Fiesta platform. The new U.S. entry is likely to migrate to Mazda's platform.

The look of the new car is unclear, but it will be more than an econobox. "It would need to stand out," a Ford source said.

Sport wagon or SUV-inspired styling is likely, based on concept vehicles the automaker has shown in the segment.

Ford will show a subcompact concept car at the 2005 Detroit auto show. That will mark the third straight year Ford has experimented with a design concept for this segment.
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