DETROIT - To make room for the new Focus, Ford Division will turn the Contour into an upmarket sport sedan and the Escort into a fleet and budget model.
In the 2000 model year, the Contour and the Escort no longer will be mass-market cars. Instead, Ford will narrow their appeal so the Focus can anchor the low end of the Ford Division lineup.
Ford's new small-car strategy was revealed last week when the company announced prices of its 2000 models. The Focus, which goes on sale in the fall, will carry base prices ranging from $12,280 for the three-door hatchback ZX3 to $15,795 for the SE wagon, including destination charges.
Stickers on the 2000 Focus sedan will be similar to base prices of the 1999 Escort sedan, forcing a new strategy when 1999 Escorts are cleaned off dealer lots.
The Escort ZX2, a sporty two-door, remains in the 2000 lineup. But the Escort station wagon will be dropped and the Escort sedan will be sold in a single version, compared with two for 1999.
'We will make the Escort into a very narrowly focused vehicle with few buildable combinations and probably provide more value,' said Lloyd Hansen, controller of Ford's global sales. 'It will be a simplified Escort and a heavy fleet vehicle.'
Ford has not yet priced the 2000 Escort, which goes on sale in the first quarter of 2000.
The 2000 Ford Contour will be offered only as an up-level SE sport model with a base sticker of $17,380, including destination charge. Contour production will end in the United States in the first quarter of 2000; after that the Contour will be produced in limited volume in Mexico.