Ford is pondering a car-based ute
There may be a Focus-based ute in the market by 2022.
If you find yourself missing the FG X Falcon ute or even the Ranchero, things are looking up. According to a report from Automobile, Ford is investigating whether there may be a demand for a compact ute built on top of the Ford Focus platform.
A car-derived ute to sit below the Ford Ranger
Unlike the venerable RWD Falcon utes, this new model would be front wheel drive only. Reputedly, Ford intends for the new model to serve as a direct replacement to the 1998 Ford Fiesta-based Courier pick-up that it produced in Brazil until 2013. However, as part of an expansion plan, the auto giant may make the compact workhorse available in the US and Europe, though no specific mentions were made about the Australian or Asian car markets.
The plucky Latin America Courier was different to the model sold in Australia prior to the Ranger. It ran a much smaller 1.4-litre petrol engine but could lug around up to 700kg in the tray. The Australian Ford Courier was actually a badge-engineered Mazda BT-50 underneath that later morphed into the nation's second best-selling dual cab, the Ford Ranger.
Not until 2022
Sadly, we’ll have to wait until at least 2022 for the first signs of a new model. The fifth-generation Focus launched worldwide only a few months ago. Ford tends to work with six- or seven-year life cycles on the Focus. Automobile’s sources indicated that any new vehicles would be built on the sixth iteration of the hatchback.
Will it come to Australia?
It’s difficult to say. But this country is mad for utes and SUVs right now. Looking at the monthly new car sales charts, utes dominate the top two spots consecutively by some distance.
Ford has been struggling with overall declining sales for several years. A smaller and more affordable work ute with a frugal four-cylinder engine could shore up those figures and keep company bosses happy.
The Aussie market Focus comes straight from Ford’s German manufacturing plant. That could mean that if the EU or UK gets this small pick-up, it wouldn’t really involve any more work shipping some right-hand drive models over here. It could mesh quite nicely in the line-up, sitting just below the Ranger and giving Ford an edge on Toyota.
A strong demand in Australia?
Even the hint of a lightweight ute coming to Oz sent the Internet into a flurry. Many hoped Ford would consider making it tough-as-old-boots and all-wheel drive, while others dreamed about a contemporary retelling of the Subaru Brumby.
Want to buy a ute now?
If you’re currently looking for a ute to use for work or travelling over rough stuff, check out our ute comparison reviews. We combine several expert car reviews into one, saving you time and helping you pick the best ute for you. Right now, motoring journalists put the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger as the class-leading offerings. The Ranger also manages to just outshine the nation’s best-selling car, the Toyota Hilux.
Picture: Ford Australia