But the car called “Escort” that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) revealed at the auto show in Shanghai on Saturday isn’t some sexy high-tech dream car made for the show circuit. Instead, as you can see, it’s a very simple-looking sedan.
It has the hexagonal grille that’s becoming a global Ford trademark, and the lines are clean and pleasant, but it’s a plain-looking car. It looks a little like a Focus — but one that has been toned way, way down.
So what is this thing? Is Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) really going to build it? And why did Ford call it “Escort”?
Why Ford might want an Escort alongside its Focus
As with many things in the auto business nowadays, the answer has a lot to do with China. Ford’s Focus has been a best-seller in China since the latest version was rolled out there last spring — but despite that car’s sales success, Ford thinks that there are some buyers it might be missing.
Not all Chinese car buyers want the same things that American or European consumers want. Some have very conservative tastes, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has discovered. They want something good, but they don’t want it to be too stylish.
They want a good car that is built well, finished well, and drives well, but they don’t want to stand out. Something that’s relatively plain-looking — but still attractive and well-made — is more likely to draw their interest.
Meanwhile, if you’ve spent any time in the latest Ford Focus, you know it’s a car with many virtues — but back-seat room isn’t really one of them. That’s not a big deal here in the U.S. or in Europe. But it matters more in China, where adults often ride in the back.
So what is the Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) Escort? Long story short, it’s a toned-down Focus with more room in the back seat — with an old Ford name that suggests sturdy-but-unexciting transportation.
Is this starting to make sense now?
So will they build it?
For now, the Escort is just a concept. Ford hasn’t confirmed plans to build it. But it has the look of something that Ford could put into production relatively quickly.
It’s a safe bet that, under that toned-down skin, the Escort shares most of its parts with the Focus. It’s also a safe bet that the Escort could be built on the same assembly lines as the Focus.