The Ford Focus looks set be axed globally in 2025, amid slowing small car sales – unless its name is saved at the last minute for a new electric car.
Production of the current Ford Focus small car will end in 2025 – and there’s no immediate sign of a successor, as the car maker moves towards an electric future.
The final fourth-generation Focus cars will roll out of the factory doors in Saarlouis, Germany in 2025, Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley told European media overnight, with no “additional model” planned for the plant’s assembly lines afterwards.
Ford is yet to confirm if the Focus will continue on as an electric car – though with declining sales of small hatchbacks in Europe and abroad, and the death of the smaller Fiesta in the coming years, it’s no certainty.
Ford sold approximately 101,000 Focus hatchbacks and wagons in Europe last year – less than half of the 224,000 sold in 2019, and down from 319,000 in 2009. Sales peaked at about 543,000 in 2001, soon after its 1998 launch.
Ford Australia has slowly trimmed back the local Focus range in recent years, culling the fourth-generation line-up from six to three models in 2020, and axing the ST-Line and Active models late last year.
The only Ford Focus variant left in Australian showrooms is the ST hot hatch, due for a facelift within months (pictured top of story) – but unlikely to receive any more major upgrades before the plug is pulled overseas in 2025.
In Australia, the Focus’ share of the non-luxury small car segment has declined from 6.5 per cent in 2014, to 2.4 per cent in 2019, and 0.7 per cent in 2021 – in a segment which, as a whole, has declined significantly over a similar period.
The smaller Ford Fiesta city car is set for a similar fate in the coming years, as its Cologne, Germany factory shifts towards electric cars – though given it received a facelift mere months ago, it’s likely to remain on sale until closer to 2025.
With no new products planned for the factory, and the Focus’ death in 2025, Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany plant could be closed entirely – though Ford of Europe chief Stuart Rowley stopped short of confirming such a decision.
“We’re seeking other alternative opportunities for vehicle production at Saarlouis, including [selling to] other manufacturers. We don’t have in our planning cycle an additional model that goes into Saarlouis,” Rowley told European media, including Autocar.
It’s reported the Saarlouis factory lost out to Ford’s plant in Valencia, Spain, as the location of choice to build vehicles on a new Ford global electric car platform, expected “later this decade”.
The Valencia plant currently builds the Escape mid-size SUV for European and Australian markets – American versions are built in the US – as well as the S-Max and Galaxy people movers not sold Down Under.
It’s unclear if the new electric platform will spawn successors to these vehicles – or whether Ford will instead rely on two new mid-size electric SUVs due in 2023 on Volkswagen’s MEB architecture, as replacements for today’s Escape.
The future of the Escape with petrol power also hangs in the balance; while the current model isn’t due for replacement until 2026, sales are declining in the US and Europe, despite competing in a growing SUV segment.
Either way, Rowley told media the switch to electric car production in Valencia would result in “significant” job cuts, as “the production of EVs will require less people”.
Ford has indicated plans to offer an all-electric or plug-in hybrid version of each of its passenger cars and SUVs by mid-2026, before switching to electric power only by 2030.
In Australia, the brand’s local division plans to introduce at least five hybrid or electric cars by the end of 2024 – confirmed to include the E-Transit and E-Transit Custom electric vans, and the just-launched Escape plug-in hybrid.
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