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Streets ahead: A sleek new design, tech innovations and safety have made the All-New Ford Focus a tops-selling vehicle. (Courtesy of Ford Motor Company)
Companies crave the gift of laying their hands on the often elusive formula for staying number one.
And sometimes keeping a competitive edge and staying ahead of the competition requires looking inward instead of outward through carefully tweaking or reformatting what was once a sure-fire recipe for success.
In the automotive industry, efforts to remain the leader of the pack must not only take into account technological advances for the 21st century, but also the changed needs of consumers and market trends.
In Europe, the United States’ second-largest automaker, Ford Motor Co., has unveiled a new version of the Mondeo – once the car of choice for executives who became known as Mondeo men– that is more in line with trendier times, Bloomberg reported.
The Mondeo Titanium is described as resembling the classically cool Aston Martin driven by international sleuth James Bond.
“You’ve got these luxury brands dipping down into what would be considered a mainstream brand’s territory,” J Mays, Ford global design chief, was quoted as saying by the business wire. “So what do you do? You make your car better-looking than theirs.”
With Europe facing dire economic times, the US automaker is also looking to the increasingly important and affluent markets of Asia. And its focus today could be described as just that: the All-New Ford Focus, which was reintroduced in a sleeker design last year, to excellent customer response.
The car promises to be one of the standout attractions during the Indonesia International Motor Show (IIMS), opening today at Jakarta International Expo in Kemayoran.
“Focus was the world’s top-selling “single-car nameplate,” – a vehicle sold under only one name – with 489,616 sales in 2012’s first six months … Ford said in statement that cited researcher IHS Automotive,” Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mullaly has also announced his goal of boosting global sales by 50 percent to 8 million vehicles by 2015, it was reported.
Asia figures prominently in those expansion plans, with growing numbers of middle-class consumers interested in purchasing quality vehicles, the business wire notes.
“The Focus is attracting many new customers to the Ford brand for the very first time, particularly in Asia,” the firm’s global marketing chief, Jim Farley, said in a statement issued out of Thailand, where it was celebrating the production of the company’s 350 millionth vehicle. Appropriately, it was a Focus.
Designed for success
The willingness of the company to innovate while others choose to rest on their laurels has earned it praise from industry analysts.
“Ford might be the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind,” said Matthew Stover, an auto analyst for Guggenheim Securities based in Boston. “They started refreshing their product line a long time ago and they did significant restructuring in Europe in the early 2000s.”
The company believes the 2013 model of the 5-seat car is streets ahead of its competitors for driving pleasure, technology and design, including the interior. Some of its advantages include:
The model uses twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT), which is touted for adding an extra measure of precision, contributing to fuel efficiency or power output, as conditions demand. “The Ti-VCT in the 2013 Focus provides the advantage of precise, continuous adjustment of valve overlap that window of time when both the engine intake and exhaust valves are open at the same time,” the company says.
For improved performance, Torque Vectoring Control transfers torque to the wheels that have the most grip, the company says, thereby eliminating pesky understeer and allowing for enhanced performance.
The six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission allows for smooth gear changes and outstanding responsiveness, along with enhanced fuel efficiency.
Greater control is assured through electric power assist steering (EPAS) that automatically adjusts to deliver precise responses at high speed and optimal maneuverability at slower speeds when needed, Ford states. The system also allows for adaptation to changing road conditions, it adds, as well as bumpy road surfaces or crosswinds.
The Focus is compared to a piece of art, with the clever use of shapes throughout, from the layered beltlines, z-shaped pattern and kinetic design “… that makes the car look like it’s in motion even when it’s parked”, Ford says. That attention to design extends to the wheels, which come in eight different models.
Many people today, especially in traffic-swamped Jakarta, spend more time on the road than they do at home. The Focus’ SYNCH with MyFord Touch is lauded by the company for allowing drivers to take care of their assorted lifestyle needs without having to worry about safety issues by taking their hands off the wheel. That includes hand-free calling and answering at the touch of a button, voice commands to browse music selections from a plugged-in digital music player, USB drive or SD card, audio text messages read aloud to the driver, even the ability to effect temperature control through a spoken command (the only problem is that you can no longer use the excuse that you were driving when your mother in law asks why you didn’t take her call).
The active park assist makes all those fears about parallel parking a thing of the past, Ford claims. The big difference from other parking assist functions in other vehicles is that the Focus uses front parking ultrasonic sensors, instead of imaging devices. Voila … it promises that you will be able to parallel park in a jiffy and with no sweat. Now, that’s good reason to take your in-law’s call to invite her over to watch your parking prowess.