When I saw the Mondeo’s recent nip-and-tuck it struck me just how similar it now looks to the US-market Ford Taurus.
Although the two cars have very little in common, Ford is gently easing us towards the next-generation Mondeo, which will, like the new Focus, be a single model sold around the world.
Ford’s US arm has the lead responsibility for the next global Mondeo and so has to turn out a car that will be well received everywhere from New York to old York. Like the Focus, the styling will also have to be common the world over.
Some of the industry’s crystal ball gazers are arguing that design tastes are becoming increasingly globalised.
The rise of Apple as a vendor of cutting edge product design and the ubiquity of the mobile phone has convinced some that we are seeing a harmonizing of global taste for big ticket items.
The mass car makers certainly hope so. Premium makers have long benefited from being able to sell, without modification, the same vehicles all over the world.
Attempts to do this with mass-maker cars have never been too successful. GM tried in the early 1980s with the Cavalier/J-platform and Chrysler with cars derived from the Hillman Avenger. (Ever heard of the Plymouth Cricket? Me neither).
Usually, these projects foundered because of the extensive changes need to meet US regulations and the production problems of local assembly.
Ford made the most serious attempt at a modern world car with the 1993 Mondeo, which also sold in the US as the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. The clue was in the name (supposedly derived from Mundus, the Latin for ‘world’) and the project code, CDW27, signifing a C/D-sized World car.
Despite being a huge hit in Europe, the first Mondeo was a flop in the US. Its compact interior dimension were often blamed. Today, European cars have, at least, grown in size to match the US norm.
The US engineers on the next-generation Mondeo project have not only got to successfully replace the current Fusion and Taurus sedans for the US market, but also meet specific European tastes such as creating a convincing Mondeo estate and, most importantly, ensuring the handling remains to European tastes.
It’ll be interesting to see how Ford US manages to hit the Euro spot from a country where chasing the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry is the domestic automaker’s national sport.