By 2019, Ford will shift production of the North American-market Focus from Michigan to China, a move estimated to save the automaker up to $1 billion. But the transition will also result in a large chunk of downtime where no new Focuses will be produced for North America.
Ford will go an entire year without making a Focus for the North American market, as Automotive News points out. That's because Ford will end production of the small car in Michigan in mid-2018 before finally picking it back up in China from mid- to late 2019.
"We'd prefer not to have that large of a gap, admittedly," Ford global operations chief Joe Hinrichs told AN. "We think we'll be able to bridge that gap with a combination of stockpiling, and the EcoSport [subcompact crossover] coming in, which will help us have another product in that price band."
Fortunately, the large gap may not hurt the automaker too much given the model's slow sales. During the first five months of the year, U.S. sales of the Focus dropped 20 percent to just 67,146 units. Ford had a 54-day supply of Focuses with 37,400 in stock as of June 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
As you may recall, Ford originally planned to shift Focus production to a new $1.6 billion plant in Mexico before ultimately deciding to build the car in China. Thanks to the shift, Ford expects to save $500 million in addition to the $500 million it saved by canceling the new plant in Mexico. Ford already builds Focuses for the Chinese market in China.
The next-generation Ford Focus will enter production in the second half of 2019. The model is expected to offer new technologies and more interior space, and it's likely to grow in length and width compared to the current version.