How important is China to Ford? A look at the company's global debuts last month at the Beijing auto show gives an idea of how seriously Ford takes the world's largest market.
The three debuts -- the Ford Escort compact sedan, Ford Everest Concept SUV and Lincoln MKX Concept crossover -- were designed with heavy input from Chinese consumers, a trend that is sure to grow.
Matt VanDyke, director of global Lincoln, put it best: "Lincoln in China has our full attention in product development. We're not developing products for the U.S. and seeing if they work there."
Of the Beijing debuts, the MKX will come to the United States as a replacement for the current version, the Escort is a possibility and the Everest a definite no.
The Everest Concept was designed on the same platform as Ford's global Ranger pickup and "shows Ford's vision for a mid-size, seven-seat, versatile SUV designed for ASEAN and global markets," according to a Ford press release for the Beijing auto show.
The Everest Concept, designed in Australia and eventually to be built in Thailand, is a rugged machine geared as much for traveling western China's rough roads as for shuttling kids to suburban schools. In the United States, Ford's lineup is loaded with SUVs and crossovers and doesn't need another entry.
The Escort is built on the Focus platform but with extra legroom for Chinese customers who prize rear seat space and amenities. China's huge compact segment accounts for about a quarter -- 5 million units -- of its sales.
In its press release, Ford refers to the Escort's "stylish and unpretentious exterior." When is the last time Ford or any other U.S. automaker hyped "unpretentious" styling?
It may be a One Ford world, but local tastes still rule.