Sourcing of the current model Focus sedan and five-door hatchback for Australia is already set to be switched from Germany to the all-new Thai plant at Rayong in about six months.
With the new Focus architecture being used to produce different vehicles, and the Kuga compact SUV being built off the same C-segment platform, it almost certainly will be another export from Rayong.
The current first-generation German-made Kuga is due to be introduced into Australian Ford showrooms in March next year and then the following generation from Thailand in 2013.
Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said that consumers would not notice any difference in production quality when Focus production was switched to Thailand from Germany in the second half of 2012.
This move will not only generate savings in manufacturing and shipping costs, but also eliminate the five percent import duty, thanks to Australia’s free-trade agreement with Thailand.
Unfortunately, production of the high-performance Focus ST model is expected to remain in Germany. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0 liter EcoBoost direct-injection four-cylinder engine, the front-drive ST (Sport Technologies) hatchback will be offered exclusively with a six-speed manual gearbox, 18 inch alloy wheels and torque vectoring control to get rid of torque steer, always a problem with hot hatches with FWD.
Another Asian-built vehicle almost certainly destined for Australia is the ladder-chassis SUV being developed from the T6 Ranger platform by Ford Australia for Thai production. Thought to be called Endeavor, this SUV would bring Ford Australia’s showroom fleet of Thai-made Ford nameplates to five - Fiesta, Ranger, Focus, Kuga and Endeavor.
In the meantime, the current 4x4 dual-cab diesel Ford Ranger pick-up is set to be joined by other variants in 2012, including Single Cab, Super Cab, 4x2, 4x2 Hi-Rider and Wildtrak.
The engine line-up will be expanded to three, with a 2.5 liter petrol and 2.2 liter diesel joining the current 3.2 liter five cylinder diesel.
According to media sources in the pipeline for Australia - although not yet officially announced - is a new Indian-made Fiesta-based entry-level compact crossover, reportedly called EcoSport, which is scheduled to be unveiled at the New Delhi motor show in January 2012.