Sometimes, you wonder about what drives an automaker. For example, Ford, not too long ago, came out with the Maverick pickup and it was an instant hit. With pricing in the $20s, the Maverick is priced right, and the response has been tremendous.
Right Sized Pickup With Maverick
The Maverick is the right size, and it is at the right time. Plus, its hybrid drivetrain is something the market sorely lacks. Indeed, Ford is making a concerted effort to sell its hybrid models, even as it works on its electrics, the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning pickup.
Senior Reporter John Goreham asks an interesting question: is the Ford Bronco really an Escape?
The beauty of the Maverick is its size. It is about the size of a slightly stretched crossover. The thing about it is that it is built to be a pickup, and the market has responded. Ford now dominates a market it dominated in the 1990s, the compact pickup segment.
Around the world there are Ford models that don't make it here.
You must wonder why Ford doesn’t offer a smaller crossover like the Ford Focus. The Focus had a lot going for it. Ford sold the Focus through 2018.
Here Is the Issue in a Nutshell
Here’s the issue: “When you think about it Ford’s lineup is complete if you like pickups and SUVs, and one or two performance vehicles, says Autoblog. However, there’s a hole in Ford’s lineup. “The problem with Ford’s lineup, though, is there is nothing relatively inexpensive other than the compact pickup Maverick, which is priced in the upper $20s. Where, though, are inexpensive vehicles that offer buyers a choice?
As Autoblog points out, Ford “currently lacks a cheap compact car, making it unable to compete in the compact sedan and hatchback segments.”
This is the result of Ford's actions. Ford did make the conscious effort to eliminate its sedan and hatchback models as far back as 2016, and it eliminated them when it stopped making the Focus in 2018.
Focus Could Offer A New Niche
Think about this. If the Focus were still available, it might offer Ford a market niche the automaker lacks. “The evolution of the Focus into a compact SUV could increase its appeal in the North American car market, as SUVs are popular and in demand,” Autoblog has opined. It makes sense, too.
If you think about vehicles like the Focus today, where are they? You must look at Hyundai and its Kia subsidiary to find crossovers or hatchbacks. It is a market Ford is losing. There are also offerings from Nissan and Toyota.
The potential of the Focus is there. Though not sold, as the Autoblog explains, the Ford Focus has “potential in the American market.” The Focus is reasonably comfortable and has a couple of things going for it. First, it is “decently powerful,” and second, it offers “fuel-efficient mild hybrid powertrain options, which could attract fuel-consumption-conscious drivers.”
Indeed, it shocked many Ford customers when the automaker pulled the plug on the “well-loved Focus hatchback and sedan in the American market in 2018.”
Autoblog had an interesting thought: “While Ford seemingly has no plans of bringing back the Focus or any other of the compact cars, hatchbacks, and SUVs that went away with it, there are plenty of great reasons why the automaker should shift its 'Focus' back to American soil.”
Ford Lacks A Car In This Class
As noted, “Ford currently doesn't have a cheap compact car in its American lineup, making it incapable of competing in the compact sedan and hatchback segments.” Interestingly, Focus has continued to develop overseas, where it is still an active vehicle. “Since the Focus left America, it has evolved to become more and more like a compact SUV than a tiny coupe, sedan, or hatchback it once was, which could increase its appeal in the competitive North American car market.”
The decently powerful and fuel-efficient mild hybrid powertrain options that Ford equips the Focus in the U.K. could also prove popular should it make a return to the U.S.
When the Focus was introduced about 23 years ago – the body was shared with Mazda – the Flat Rock Plant econocar was an instant hit. It remained popular from the 2000s to about 2010. Its popularity began to wane in 2010. A major revision did lift its sales a bit in the 2012 era, but sales remained flat. Finally, Ford concentrated on the most profitable parts of its line pickups and SUVs. The handwriting was on the wall, though and ultimately, the Focus was yanked in 2018, leaving Ford without a competitive model in this area.
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.