The next-generation Ford Focus platform will have all-wheel-drive derivatives, greatly expanding the platform's range of products.
Up to 15 products will come from the new Focus platform, counting all variants planned for Ford, Mazda and Volvo brands.
Ford's current C1 platform is used only for the Focus and has only front-wheel drive. The next-generation Focus platform has been co-developed with Mazda and Volvo to also build the next Mazda3 and Volvo 40 series. The core vehicles will still be based on front-drive architecture.
With all-wheel drive engineered into the platform architecture, Ford could enter the car-based, small sport-utility segment below the Maverick (called Escape in the USA). Ford also could use all-wheel drive to build high-performance variants and capitalize on its World Rally Championship image.
In co-developing the new platform, Volvo engineers designed modifications to the Focus powertrain that permit all-wheel drive, a Ford source said. Volvo could use all-wheel-drive to differentiate its upscale 40-series sedan and wagon from the lower-priced Focus and Mazda3 versions. Volvo also could get an all-wheel-drive people-carrier from the platform.
The first vehicle from the new Focus platform will be a seven-passenger Ford compact minivan for Europe to compete against the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira. It is due in summer 2003.
The next Focus will follow in early 2004 in Europe.
Ford already proved with the Mondeo that it can expand the range of its front-drive platforms. Though the Mondeo is a front-drive car, the platform was adapted to provide all-wheel drive for the Jaguar X-type sedan.
'If the idea is laid down from Day One, it's easy to incorporate,' said Mark Fulthorpe, analyst with CSM Worldwide in Byfleet, England. 'If Ford uses a synchro system like VW, it will give them a quick deployment.'