About 1.6 million annually cars are expected to come off Ford's new C1 platform, the biggest joint development project in the company's history.
The next Ford Focus and Mazda3 and Volvo S40 and V40 replacements due later this year will share 60 percent of their components and systems.
The C1 Technologies initiative will involve seven body variants, with assembly taking place in 13 countries.
The C1 won't be the industry's highest volume platform. Volkswagen's Golf platform is already the basis of over 2 million units. But it is a groundbreaking program at Ford.
The challenge was simple: Use the best technology from Ford, Mazda and Volvo lower-medium vehicles to create features in a new generation of cars.
For example, a Mazda3 will get the driving-dynamics knowledge of Ford engineers; safety advances from Volvo engineers; and the Mazda team's zippy gasoline engine and build quality. But if the plan works, customers won't confuse a Mazda3 with a Volvo S40 or a Ford Focus.
The individual models 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.
Ford showed the first result of the partnership at Geneva - the Focus C-Max compact minivan. Volvo will show the S40 sedan at September's Frankfurt auto show, where the Mazda3 could also appear. Those products should appear next year, followed by the new Focus itself.