The Ford Motor Company announced on Thursday its new global Ford Performance team. Ford Performance takes existing regional performance engineering and racing teams and places them under a single umbrella, one that the automaker says will produce more than 12 new performance vehicles through 2020. One of those vehicles is the Ford Fiesta RS, a model that will be sold globally, including in the United States.
Ford says that the new entity will make more parts, accessories and vehicles available to markets around the world. At present, Ford has held back certain vehicles from various markets. Under the new plan all “major markets” will be covered. The Focus RS will be the first of the planned dozen or so models we will see.
The move to Ford Performance follows Ford’s “One Ford” initiative launched in 2008 that promised to make available to North American vehicle shoppers an assortment of European models that were not sold here previously. Those models include the Fiesta, Focus and its most recent introduction, the large Ford Transit van.
“Ford remains committed to innovation through performance,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Our new global Ford Performance team ties together racing, performance vehicles and parts. It will allow us to more quickly introduce products and accessories that meet the needs of customers around the world on-road and on the track.”
Ford RS to Focus RS
The Ford Focus RS is one model enthusiasts will be happy to see. A late 1960s era Ford Escort RS1600 was the first model in the RS line, a collaboration between Ford and Britain’s Rallye Sport (RS) dealer network according to Auto Express. That 16-valve, twin-cam engine made 120 horsepower — a big number back in the day.
In its later years, the Ford Focus RS has upheld the RS mantle, as the most recent model was introduced in 2009 and rated at 301 horsepower. A new model is due out in 2016 and that one will be sold in North America.
With the Focus RS in the Ford stable, it will join existing performance models, including the Shelby GT350 Mustang, F-150 Raptor, Fiesta ST and Focus ST. Ford claims that demand for performance vehicles is strong worldwide and has increased by 70 percent in the United States since 2009. Europe’s growth has been more modest, coming in at 14 percent over the same period.
Young Buyers Drawn to ST Line
Ford reports that its ST line is attracting younger buyers to the brand. The company says that approximately two-thirds of Fiesta ST and Focus ST buyers come from outside of the brand. Moreover, Ford claims a retention rate of more than 50 percent for buyers who purchase a performance model and are looking for a new vehicle.
At the heart of Ford’s performance portfolio is a family of EcoBoost engines. These engines have variable valve technology, turbochargers and direct fuel injection. As of this writing Auto Trends is testing a Fiesta ST. A review of the product will be published later this month.
Charlotte, NC Facility
Ford Performance will bring together several teams — Ford Racing, Team RS and Ford SVT. In addition to developing new products, Ford Performance is tasked with improving aerodynamics, advancing light-weighting, introducing new electronics and enhancing powertrain performance and efficiency. The company says that its new state-of-the-art facility in Charlotte, NC, “…will help the team deliver racing innovations, as well as advance tools for use in performance vehicles and daily drivers alike.”
The company traces its performance credentials all the way back to Henry Ford himself. In 1901, Mr. Ford won the Sweepstakes race, defeating America’s greatest racer, Alexander Winton. Since then, Ford has rolled out a variety of performance models, most notably the ground-breaking Ford Mustang in 1964.
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Ford Performance logo and Focus RS photo courtesy of the Ford Motor Company.