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USA:Ford shelves diesel Focus for North America due to cost concerns

Ford shelves diesel Focus for North America due to cost concerns

By AMY WILSON | Automotive News

DETROIT - Ford Motor Co.'s development efforts for a diesel Ford Focus for North America are on the back burner.

New COO Jim Padilla says the business case for diesel-powered small cars doesn't work. Diesel engines are costly because they have high-pressure fuel systems and need exhaust equipment required to meet pending U.S. emissions regulations.

"Do you think you can float that on the back of a C car (Focus-sized) in North America?" Padilla said. "The cost is just too high."

Ford has toyed with bringing a diesel Focus to the United States for several years. Last year President Nick Scheele said the automaker needs to introduce a diesel Focus for U.S. sale, even if the volume is small. Such a move would be akin to DaimlerChrysler AG's test of diesel acceptance with the introduction of a diesel-powered Jeep Liberty SUV this year.

But Padilla's comments, made in a May 4 interview, indicate that a diesel Focus for the United States may never happen - or may take several more years at least.

Volkswagen sells a diesel Jetta small car in the United States, but its base sticker is $19,245 - $2,925 more than the uplevel four-door Focus ZTS. The prices include destination charges.

Ford sells a diesel Focus in Europe, where diesel technology is more widespread. European consumers prefer small cars and are willing to pay more for them than U.S. consumers.

Selling a diesel Focus in the United States also is more complicated than just adopting the European version. U.S. emissions regulations get tougher after 2007 and would load even more cost on a diesel Focus, Padilla said.

A better direction for diesel expansion is trucks, he said. The automaker sells diesel F-250 and F-350 pickups and a diesel Excursion SUV in the United States. Ford plans to add a V-6 diesel to the F-150 pickup and Expedition SUV this decade.

Ford's North American diesel team - formed last year with more than 50 Ford diesel engineers - is concentrating primarily on trucks, said Phil Martens, Ford's group vice president of product creation. Ford is hiring people from outside the company and transferring existing personnel to expand that team.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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