Shanghai 2013: Return of the Escort

Ford Motor Company set a sales record in China last month, selling 81,387 vehicles, a 65 percent increase over March ’12. Still, that’s small beer next to arch-rival General Motors, whose March ’13 sales rose 12.6 percent, to 290,538 cars and trucks. More China-centric products built with local partner Changan Ford will help the Blue Oval close the gap with its rivals there.

The C-segment — compacts — accounts for about 5.5 million sales in China per year, so Ford’s Shanghai show car premiering Saturday morning local time, is the C-segment Escort concept. Designed specifically for the Chinese market, the Ford Escort, if the company decides to build it there, is styled with a longer trunkline than the three-box Focus four-door sedan.

The Escort is built on One Ford’s global C-segment platform, which includes the high-volume Focus and Escape/Kuga, though both its wheelbase and overall length are slightly longer than the current Focus’.

The new sedan concept is designed to be cheaper, with less content than the Focus, which also is sold in China. Ford notes that the C-segment in China can be divided into three sub-segments. The Focus sold there is essentially the current One Ford model and plays in the “high-C” sub-segment. Ford also sells a one-generation-old European Focus under the badge, Focus Classic, which plays in the “mid-C” segment.

The slightly larger Escort, if produced, will be a kind of large-economy size model targeting the “low-C” segment. Ford is not talking about powertrains or other details for the Escort, and at this point it’s still being described as a concept, though Ford’s recently announced 1.5-liter EcoBoost four would be a good bet. If Ford gives the Escort the green light for production, the compact probably won’t be sold outside of the Chinese market.

By Todd Lassa

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