Has Ford lost its Focus?

Has Ford lost its Focus?

Clever title, right?

Ford Factory in Cologne, Germany

Ford has said that it will be ending production of the Fiesta here in Europe to focus its efforts on the electric car, apparently a Ford-VW crossover by summer time next year. Good news for the people who like crossovers, bad news for those with taste. The company will be investing $2 billion over the next 6 years to build 1.2 million of these cars, and honestly, I think this is going to be a grave mistake for a company that were once synonymous with affordability and fun. I think back to the past, streets were once full of cars like the Focus, Fiesta, Escort, Mondeo and the Puma (the proper one).

It was only a year ago whilst scouring through the news headlines on a scorching hot day on the Italian coast where I learnt that Ford would be ending the production of the Focus in 2025, and I was thinking that it wasn’t so long ago that the Mondeo died. It was at that moment where I was recalling Ford manufacturing plants that had closed in recent years and I realised that Ford (at least in Europe) are on a path which I believe will only ever become narrower.

Allow me to elaborate.

Ford Mustang Mach-E review | DrivingElectric
Ford should’ve really not badged this as a Mustang, but I feel they had to brand it this way to justify its price.

I remember going to the Ford showroom when the Mustang Mach-E was launched here. I didn’t know all that much about the car, but when I went there and had a look around it I was trying to establish the link to the 5.0 litre mustang that was sat beside it. The sales rep next to me must’ve said “full electric” about a hundred times before I’d even opened the door, but when I was met with a very different interior to what I’d been accustomed to with that brand. A big screen, a neat digital instrument cluster screen, and some really nice design touches. That screen has a physical volume button at the bottom of it, which is pretty unique but I liked quite a lot. The interior easily beats the ones found on VW’s ID range where the build quality resembles those plastic red and yellow Little Tikes cars.

So, does the nicer than average interior mean this is an absolute victory for Ford and we shouldn’t be worried?

No. Why?

The car I was sat in was over £50,000.

From a premium brand, I could maybe understand it, but Ford? Where the fancy door releases are hidden in the interior handles were already broken? Where people around me who had already driven it had told me about how bad the handling was and how firm it was? Not really.

Ford Kuga vs Ford Puma: which hybrid SUV should you buy?
Top: Ford Puma
Bottom: Ford Kuga

Now, Ford isn’t exactly on its knees. The crossovers like the Puma and Kuga well, and you see them fairly often. I’m really not a fan of them because I cannot stop connecting the Puma name with a sporty coupé of the past, but me aside, it’s a car which along with the Juke, the T-Roc and more recently the Arkana from Renault are riding the crossover bandwagon to the end of the rainbow to savour vast quantities of consumer’s hard earnt cash. This is great for the company for now, but I foresee a time where this will backfire. Crossovers are meant to be a car that will work for everyone, a bit bigger than a hatchback, a bit smaller than a full-size SUV. When the time comes where someone wants something smaller than that, a fiesta for example, it will no longer exist. Maybe they want a car to fit the family in, but still be a nice car to drive, a focus for example, also no longer exists.

New limited Ford Fiesta ST Edition launched | Auto Express
The Fiesta ST, this one being a special edition from 2 years ago in Azura Blue.

That being said, Ford at least here in the UK isn’t anything like what it was. Thousands of job loses over the past decade or so and past owners of Fords I knew now prefer other brands such as Toyota and Honda. There’s a sentence that I read whilst researching this topic from a spokesperson that read “Ford cannot continue to be a volume manufacturer making okay products – we want to deliver vehicles that put a smile on customers’ faces that they’re proud to own”. Think about those words. What small car did people buy in their droves when they aspired to have a hot supermini? The Fiesta ST. Fast Fords have a history of being cars people were proud to own that they could actually afford and put a smile on the faces of many. So, to take away the products people loved and to give that sort of comment displays complete and utter negligence. The Ford fanbase is huge, people love their Fords. Do Ford really think their customers think their cars are “okay”?

Hyundai i20N red
The i20N in this shade of red looks fantastic.

A friend of mine has a family that almost exclusively buys Fords. When I last spoke with him, he told me that he has bought an i20N. He had done this not long after asking his local Ford dealer about a hot hatch for around £25,000 (such as the Fiesta ST) and he was told if he wanted one, he should go elsewhere as these cars were “not the priority” of the dealership. What does that even mean? So, he went to Hyundai where he was treated courteously and his every need was met. His sister’s next choice (no surprise) is the larger i30, and it seems like a lifelong family tradition has begun to sway to another road.

What is happening to the former Ford engine plant in Bridgend? - Business  Live
With all the factory closures and favourite models being discontinued and their views changing, Ford aren’t what they used to be.

If this is the Ford of the future, the image they’ve had for decades in the motoring world will soon become a thing of the past.