For what seems like forever, industry observers in the U.S. have pined away for Ford to offer its appealing European products in the U.S. Sometimes we've gotten them, like the appealing but too-expensive Capri of the '70s or the odd-duck XR4TI of the '80s. But under president and CEO Alan Mulally's One Ford dictate, more products will be global, so we will be getting the dynamically styled European models like the Fiesta, Focus and, starting at the end of next year, the Grand C-Max minivan.
It isn't clear whether One Ford also extends to name badges, because its seems unlikely that a name like Grand C-Max is going to open a lot of doors for a six-passenger compact minivan. The Euro-spec model introduced in Geneva will be offered in two-row, five-seat or three-row, seven-seat configurations, but in the U.S. we will get only three-row, six-seat models configured similarly to the Mazda5.
The Euro models are naturally powered by a variety of micro engines and diesels, but it seems likely that in the U.S. we'll see the 2.0-liter Duratec four-cylinder gas engine and probably a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine matched to Ford's new six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and a six-speed manual as in the Focus.
The automotive chatter at the show was naturally effusive in praise for the Focus wagon, which also debuted in Geneva. Ford executives have wisely concluded that One Ford doesn't mean "Bankrupt Ford," so the company will pass on the charade of pretending that there are actual customers for compact station wagons in the U.S.
Instead, Ford will offer compact SUVs and the Grand C-Max people mover. Some family-friendly features we can expect on the Grand C-Max include a rear-view backup camera and a blind-spot warning system. The company also introduced the apparently less-than-Grand regular C-Max, a two-row, five-seater that has hinged rear doors rather than the sliders on the Grand C-Max. Why not bring that car to America? Looks too much like a hatchback for Americans, the company explained.
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About the Author
Dan Carney is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for MSNBC.com, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications. He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award. Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, D.C.