Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
Ford taps Mazda, Volvo to create small cars; variants of shared platfoms
March 24, 2003)
By BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe
Ford Motor Co. plans to use technology and expertise from Ford, Mazda and Volvo to create a generation of small cars that will spawn sales of about 1.6 million units per year.
The program, called C Technologies, calls for seven body variants that will be assembled in 13 countries.
Sharing parts and expertise from Ford Motor's corporate family is an important strategy to cut costs and erase red ink. The company posted combined net losses of $6.43 billion in 2001 and 2002. The program's core nameplates, the next-generation Mazda3, which replaces the Protege, Ford Focus and Volvo S40 and V50, will share 60 percent of their components.
But the individual cars will remain distinctive and true to the values of their brands, Ford planners hope. In the process, the three brands will get big savings on purchasing and product development costs. For example, a Mazda3 will get driving dynamics knowledge from Ford engineers and safety advances from Volvo engineers, while keeping Mazda's reputation for zippy gasoline engines and build quality. But if the plan works, customers won't confuse a Mazda3 with a Volvo S40 or a Ford Focus.
The building block of the strategy is Ford's widely praised Focus. Ford showed the first result of the partnership at the Geneva auto show this month, the Focus C-Max compact minivan. Volvo will show the S40 sedan at the Frankfurt auto show in September, where the Mazda3 also could appear. Those products should appear next year, followed by the new Focus. About 1.6 million cars will come out of the program in its peak year around 2006, according to Global Insight Automotive.
Nigel Griffiths, Global Insight analyst, says the program will be one of the largest in industry history. For comparison, last year Ford Motor sold in the United States 1,036,810 trucks off the full-sized pickup platform - Ford F series, Expedition and Excursion, and the Lincoln Navigator.
Sharing 60 percent of components need not be a problem, Griffiths says.
"It's the 40 percent that really does the work for you. As long as those differentiators are high and have high recognition content with customers, you can easily get away with 60 percent (common components)."
The different parts should accentuate differences between the brands, he says. "That could be interior quality, engine sound or the noise the door makes when you click it shut," he says. "Those sensual factors eventually become emotive."
(Photo) The Mazda MX Sportif concept (top) carries many design cues of the Mazda3, which will replace the Mazda Protege. The Ford Focus C-Max compact minivan (bottom) won't be sold in America, but the fascia will be repeated in the next-generation Focus.
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.....