The Focus isn’t dead, but its factory could be in danger as Ford invests in electric vehicle production at other plants.
SR.de reports production could be cut by 14 per cent to 860 vehicles per day, and around 800 employees could be made redundant.
That’s led to speculation the plant’s future is in doubt, particularly as Ford has chosen to invest US$2 billion (A$2.78bn) in its other German factory in Cologne, which currently produces the Fiesta, to produce Volkswagen MEB-based electric vehicles there.
A decision is reportedly due this month on the Saarlouis plant’s future beyond 2025.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the Focus will be discontinued, as production of the current model’s successor could reportedly move to Valencia, Spain – though this is another plant that’s recently been rumoured to be on the chopping block.
Valencia currently produces the Kuga/Escape crossover and Transit Connect van, as well as the ageing Galaxy and S-Max people movers.
It also produced the Mondeo, of which production recently ended.
Ford Australia has delayed the introduction of the facelifted Focus ST, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has directly affected one of its suppliers.
With supply of the new 13.2-inch Sync4 infotainment system affected, Ford Australia has chosen to delay the updated Focus launch to August at the earliest rather than sell cars with the old 8.0-inch Sync3 set-up as is being done in Europe.
Only the sporty ST and ST-X will be offered, with Ford culling the rest of the range.
The Focus’ declining sales and whittled-down lineup in Australia has been covered extensively on CarExpert, but its (better) standing in Europe has also eroded.
The entry-level SUV overtook the Focus in the sales race last year with 134,431 sales. Ford sold just 101,066 of its hatch and wagon range in Europe last year, according to Carsalesbase.
That was down from 173,853 vehicles the year before, demonstrating a sales sag for the fourth-generation model, which debuted in 2018.
Its sales are well down from the salad days of the 2000s, where 400-500,000 Focus models were sold annually, but also down from its annual sales tallies in the 2010s which were typically around 200,000 units or higher.
An electric Focus successor could be in the cards, however.
Ford of Europe’s chief designer, Murat Gueler, told Autocar late last year that such a model is among the EVs being sketched out.
The company previously offered an electric version of the third-generation model.
The Blue Oval’s European arm is making room for an expanded line-up of electric vehicles, with seven due by 2024 including an electric Puma and two new crossovers.
Later this year Ford will launch its first vehicle based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB all-electric architecture, built at Cologne.
Said to be a “mid-size crossover”, the new vehicle is thought to be closely related to the Volkswagen ID.4 and will sit below the Mustang Mach-E.
According to the firm, the EV crossover will be capable of driving up to 500km on a single charge. Media reports indicate the automaker will bring back one of its classic European nameplates for the vehicle.
Despite sharing common underpinnings with various Volkswagen Group vehicles, Ford is promising the new crossover will be a distinctly Ford vehicle in terms of design, feel and services.
It will be joined within a year by a “sports crossover” to be built at the same plant, and presumably using the same platform, and by 2030 Ford of Europe’s passenger car lineup will become EV-only.
MORE: Everything Ford Focus