By: Automotive News
Ford Motor’s future-product focus is on improving fuel economy by making its vehicles smaller and engines lighter without sacrificing performance, safety, or luxury.
It also wants to push the Ford brand more upscale to capture customers orphaned by the shutdown of the Mercury brand, and to attract new buyers with more product offerings.
Ford has said 90 percent of its North American nameplates will be available with direct-injection turbocharged EcoBoost engines as standard equipment or as an option by 2013. That engine puts out as much power as heavier V-8s or conventional six-cylinder engines.
By the end of this year, the EcoBoost will be offered as an option on five of Ford’s 15 North American nameplates: the Flex crossover, Taurus sedan, F-150 pickup, Edge crossover, and Explorer crossover. Ford also is developing a 1-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine for subcompact and compact cars that is likely to arrive in 2013.
Here are highlights for Ford’s 2012-14 model years.
Fiesta: The subcompact went on sale in May 2010 as a 2011 model. The car likely will get the 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine Ford is developing as an option in the 2013 or 2014 model year. A restyling is due in the 2014 model year.
Spy photos have caught a sporty variant of the Fiesta in Europe. It is likely to land here in the 2013 model year.
Focus: Ford launched the redesigned Focus this year on Ford’s global compact platform.
An electric version is planned for the 2012 model year. A performance version called the Focus ST, with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, will go on sale in 2012.
There is talk that the 1.0-liter EcoBoost Ford announced it is developing could find a home in the Focus as a fuel economy option in the 2013 or 2014 model year.
There is another high-performance all-wheel-drive RS model that is engineered and sold in Europe, which could be sold here if the car can meet cost targets. The current generation of the Focus RS is priced in the mid-$30,000s.
Mustang: The pony car will be redesigned for the 2015 model year. The nameplate turns 50 years old in 2014; its production start was March 9, 1964. Those inside Ford say the Mustang’s 50th anniversary is “hugely important” and Ford will not miss the marketing opportunity.
The redesigned Mustang is expected to move to an independent rear suspension, from the current solid rear axle, as part of a move to a new platform.
Fusion: A redesign of the Ford Fusion and its Lincoln MKZ sibling is scheduled for the 2013 model year. At that time, the two models switch to Ford’s global midsized platform.
The 2012 Fusion could get the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine also scheduled for the Focus ST and the 2013 Taurus. Ford is likely to drop the V-6 engine option except for the sporty variant.
Ford is developing 2.5- and 2.7-liter V-6 EcoBoost engines for 2014 or 2015. The Fusion would get the 2.5-liter variant, and the Lincoln MKZ would get the 2.7 liter.
Taurus: Ford will launch a restyled 2013 Taurus sedan, shown at the 2011 New York auto show, less than four years after the current Taurus went on sale in the summer of 2009. It will be the first vehicle in Ford’s lineup to offer two EcoBoost engine choices.
The car will offer a re-engineered version of the 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine currently available in the Taurus SHO. It also will offer the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine used in the Ford Mondeo sedan in Europe.
Ford will continue to offer a 3.5-liter V-6 naturally aspirated engine in the 2013 Taurus, but it will be re-engineered for better performance to generate 290 hp–a 29-hp boost over the current power plant.
Ford is expected to add a 2.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine by the 2015 model year.
C-Max: The C-Max compact five-seat minivan–which some Americans may view as more hatchback than minivan–will come in hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, but no gasoline-powered version. Ford has ditched a seven-passenger gasoline version. The plug-in version will carry the C-Max Energi name. They are expected to arrive in rapid succession, if not simultaneously, in 2012 as 2013 models.
Escape: A redesigned, sleeker Escape based on a version of the next-generation Kuga compact crossover developed in Europe likely will hit the United States for the 2013 model year. Ford showed a design concept of it called the Vertrek at the 2011 Detroit auto show. It will be on the compact car platform the Focus shares.
Ford has not commented on the future of an Escape Hybrid, but the close-in-size C-Max Hybrid may rule one out.
Edge: Ford reskinned the Edge in 2011. A redesign is expected in the 2014 or 2015 model year. It will be smaller and use Ford’s global midsized platform.
Explorer: The redesigned Explorer went on sale late last year. Look for a refresh in the 2014 or 2015 model year.
Flex: The crossover will get a minor freshening for the 2012 model year, including a new grille and headlamps. Those who have seen it say the new look waters down the aggressive face on the current Flex. Expect a reskin for the 2015 model year.
It’s still uncertain if the Flex will join the Explorer and Taurus and get the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in 2013. The 2011 Flex offers the 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine.
Expedition: Ford could freshen or reskin the SUV for the 2012 or 2013 model year, giving it a redesigned grille and some of the same power trains as the F-series pickups. Those could include a 3.5-liter V-6 for improved fuel economy, and the 5.0-liter V-8 currently in the 2011 Mustang, replacing the Expedition’s current 5.4-liter V-8.
Ford may discontinue the extended-length Expedition EL in the 2012 or 2013 model year because of poor sales.
F-150: The F-150 will be redesigned for the 2015 or 2016 model year and switch to a new platform called the P552. Ford replaced the pickup’s power trains this year.
F-series Super Duty: Ford launched a freshened 2011 Super Duty with a new in-house diesel engine and a 6.2-liter V-8 last year. Look for another freshening in the 2014 model year.
Transit Connect: In December 2010, Ford launched the electric version of the compact van. Look for a redesign around 2013.
Econoline: A replacement vehicle is possible in the 2014 model year as a derivative of the next-generation Transit, which is sold outside North America. Ford has given some test Transits to U.S. drivers for feedback.
Ford likely would replace the van then only if the automaker needs a more fuel-efficient replacement to meet tougher fuel-economy rules.