Ford To Debut Focus Wagon At Auto Show

Sporty wagon will be rolled out Monday at Geneva Motor Show, targeted to European markets where wagons aren't seen as out-of-style like they are in the U.S.

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. plans to revive its Focus station wagon in Europe, but there are no plans at present to bring the sleek new five-door car to Ford's home market.

The sporty wagon will be rolled out Monday at the Geneva Motor Show, targeted to European markets where wagons aren't seen as out-of-style like they are in the U.S.

Company executives say wagons account for 30 percent of Focus sales in Europe, and it's 50 percent in countries such as Italy and Germany.

The wagon, just like the Focus sedan and hatchback introduced earlier this year in Detroit, has sloping, aerodynamic lines that Ford says makes it look like it's moving even when it's not.

Ford also announced that the Focus would globally get a version of Ford's Ecoboost direct-injection turbocharged engine, but the company would not reveal the size of the engine or other details about it. Ford has already announced plans to bring two-liter and 1.6-liter turbocharged engines to the U.S. The U.S. Focus, due in showrooms early in 2011, will be equipped with a two-liter engine.

The Dearborn, Mich., automaker says the wagon is the fifth of 10 vehicles that it will build worldwide off its new global compact car underpinnings by 2012. So far Ford has announced the Focus sedan and hatchback, the wagon and the C-MAX and Grand C-Max models, which are like small sport utility vehicles.

The wagon, though, won't make it to the U.S. unless Ford sees a change in the market. Frank Davis, executive director of North American product programs, said the wagon has a stigma in the U.S. and hasn't sold well in recent years.

In the U.S., a previous generation Focus station wagon was only 14 percent of the Focus' sales at its peak in 2002. That dropped to 4 percent in 2007, the last year the wagon was sold in the U.S.

You can blame memories of the 1960s family vacation for that. Market research has shown that many baby boomers associate station wagons with their parents and think they'll be perceived as old if they drive one. Frank Davis, Ford's executive director of North American products, says the wagon still has a stigma in the U.S., plus American consumers have other choices such as crossover vehicles and minivans. Crossovers are like a sport utility vehicle but built on a car frame instead of a truck.

But Ford isn't ruling out bringing the wagon to North America should demand rise. Its factory in Wayne, Mich., where the Focus will be made, is flexible enough to handle an additional model, Davis said.

"Because things in Europe and consumer tastes are starting to converge, if that happens, based our flexible body shop, we can bring it later," he said.

In Europe, though, the wagon has always been popular, second only to the five-door hatchback for the Focus, John Fleming, Ford of Europe CEO, said in a statement.

"These customers want the extra space and flexibility a traditional wagon provides, yet they still expect all of the technology, great driving dynamics, and superb styling," he said.

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