Ford is planning to use the huge production numbers of its new global Focus to offer ‘big car’ options — and they could cost up to half what is normally charged for hi-tech features on more upmarket models.
Around two million units per year of the new Focus and its derivatives, developed under the ‘One Ford’ plan, will be sold in more than 120 countries.
Ford claims this large-scale production will allow it to drive down the cost of options usually reserved for premium cars. These include low-speed braking assist, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection, park assist, automatic high beam control and a driver alert warning that detects when a driver is tired.
As an example, the park assist system introduced on the new Focus-based C-Max will cost £275; on the new BMW 5-series it’s a £560 option.
“We can make these systems cheaper as we’re doing it on a global platform with great economies of scale,” said David Weinrauch, a systems engineer in developing the new Focus.
Ford doesn’t expect a huge take-up of many of the options, although Weinrauch said the global trend towards downsizing meant smaller cars had to offer ‘big car’ tech if they were to appeal to buyers. “People will spend more on smaller cars if they get bigger car features and a premium product,” he said.
Ford is also aiming for a refined driving experience in the new Focus, akin to that of premium cars, alongside its extensive options list. A lot of development work has centred on noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, particularly on diesel models.
“Our diesels are a big step forward in refinement,” said Ralf Heinrichs from the new Focus’s NVH team. “We want passengers to think they’re in a petrol, which is a challenge as diesels knock and are impulsive in their fuel injection.”
As a result, the new 2.0-litre diesel will be seven to eight per cent quieter, thanks to highly tuned fuel injectors, reduced turbo whoosh and improved cabin isolation, including a complete seal between the interior and the engine bay.
Work on petrol models, in particular the new 1.6 Ecoboost, has centred on improving aural feedback. “We’ve developed a sporty growl,” said Heinrichs. “The car is more responsive under full throttle, both aurally and dynamically.”