Ford drives out the new 'world car' Focus in Detroit
ELECTRIC, hybrid and small cars took centre stage at the Detroit auto show yesterday as the industry grapples with the demands of a world reshaped by the recession and sweeping environmental worries.
The event will ultimately demonstrate just how automakers are responding to this harsh new reality.
In Ireland, as demand slowly picks up after the big chill kept potential buyers off the forecourts at the start of the year, many of the cars for sale today are those that were on the show stands across the world a mere year or two ago.
The real news as far as Irish buyers are concerned is the world premiere of the new Ford Focus.
While the version that arrives here in 2011 will be slightly different, what you see in these pictures are effectively the shapes and outlines of your new Focus hatch and saloon.
Ford hopes the car becomes the standard for how to economically build a vehicle for the world. This new "world car" shares about 80pc of its components with twin models in Europe and Asia. Because of the way the 106-year-old company was organised, previous models of the Focus were designed separately by region and didn't share many parts.
Ford wants to build on its success in mid-size motors and re-ignite its small car sales, while Hyundai aims to extend last year's triumph in budget-conscious models. Toyota hopes to solidify its dominance in hybrids.
The new crop of models must be successful if automakers are to reverse last year's sales plunge. Everyone feels less wealthy -- and more certain that the trend toward higher fuel prices remains a threat.
It's a change so many automakers were slow to embrace, and it cost them as fuel prices surged and consumers stopped spending.
In 2010, the goal for automakers is to show off new versions of smaller, less expensive and frugal cars.