Ford will broaden the application of its Econetic fuel-saving technology when it launches the new Focus in 2011, helped by government backing for the firm’s £1.5bn investment in the UK’s low carbon vehicle industry.
“We’re aiming to make fuel economy a reason to buy a Ford,” said European product development chief Joe Bakaj, “and we’re going to be aggressive with this on all derivatives of the new Focus.”
Besides packaging bundles of fuel-saving technologies to create distinct models, Ford will offer items such as stop-start, gearshift indicators, electric grille shutters and intelligent alternators as individual options in an effort to make these features more affordable. At the moment, for example, the Econetic Focus (with stop-start), accounts for a tiny percentage of sales.
In particular, Bakaj wants more than 80 per cent of the new Focus range to be available with stop-start as an option, and for it to be standard on some models. One of the advantages of the company’s ‘One Ford’ policy, which involves the same models being sold worldwide, is that the economies of scale will allow Ford to offer these technologies at a lower price.
Ford is also refining stop-start so that the engine can turn off with the car in gear under the right circumstances, although working out the protocols means it’s “two years off”.
Bakaj also said economics are not the overwhelming factor in the drive to improve fuel economy. “It’s more social and political pressures that are driving fuel consumption down,” he said.