Click above for high-res gallery of the 2008 Ford Focus SES Coupe

We'll admit it. We didn't think sales of the 2008 Ford Focus would take off like they have, even after we had a 2008 Focus SES Coupe in the Autoblog Garage and for the most part liked it. The redesign for 2008 just left a bad taste in our mouths, and we didn't think anyone would fall for those garish fender vents. For whatever reason, be it the car's smooth ride, competitive pricing or exclusive availability of the SYNC system, the 2008 Focus is selling like crazy. Ford says that it sold 49,070 Focuses this year through March alone, which is up 23 percent compared to last year. More importantly, all of those additional Focus sales were to retail customers, not fleets. Last year the Blue Oval built 191,000 Focuses, but today it has announced that production will be ramped up at its Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant so that 245,000 units can be built in 2008.

For comparison's sake, Toyota sold 371,390 Corollas in 2007, while Honda sold 331,095 Civics and Chevy sold 200,620 Cobalts. The Corolla and Civic are both handily outselling their domestic competition so far this year, but the Focus is now slightly ahead of the Cobalt, which sold 48,024 units through March.


[Source: Ford]

PRESS RELEASE

FORD INCREASES PRODUCTION OF FOCUS AT WAYNE ASSEMBLY TO KEEP UP WITH RISING SALES

WAYNE, Mich., April 15, 2008 – Ford Motor Company said today that North American production of the Ford Focus will increase by nearly 30 percent in 2008 to keep pace with strong demand for the newly redesigned small car.

The new Focus – which delivers 35 miles per gallon and industry-first technology such as Ford SYNC™ – has been a hot seller since it began rolling off the assembly line at Ford's Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant in late 2007.

In the first three months of 2008, Ford sold 49,070 Focus units – an increase of 23 percent from the same time period last year. Importantly, retail sales were up 35 percent, while fleet sales declined slightly. The Focus now claims 7.6 percent of the U.S. small car market, 1.2 percentage points better than a year ago.

Based on the strong demand, Ford is increasing production in order to build a total of 245,000 Focus units in 2008, up from 191,000 in 2007. The production plan means Wayne Stamping and Assembly's 2,800 employees will work some overtime and Saturday shifts for the rest of the year to meet demand.

"Our employees are determined to deliver high-quality vehicles to our customers," said Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant Manager Dale Wishnousky. "Our work force understands the Focus is the gateway to Ford Motor Company and knows it is a great car and it's great to see that our customers know it – and love it – too."

The 2008 model of the fun-to-drive Focus launched in October 2007 with industry-exclusive technology such as Ford SYNC™, the hands-free voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment technology that integrates Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital music players. SYNC-equipped Focus accounted for 40 percent of the sales.

The new Focus also launched with improved quality – with 13 percent fewer Things Gone Wrong (TGW) over last year. This is according to the 2008 Q1 Global Quality Research System (GQRS) study conducted for Ford by RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Ford invested $130 million in Wayne to build the new Focus. The company installed new tooling and equipment, body shop upgrades and a new onsite "rough road" test track for the Focus.

J.D. Power sales data show that 30 percent of 2008 Focus year buyers are 16 to 35 years old. That's up from 26 percent of 2007 Focus buyers.

Wayne Stamping and Assembly opened in 1952. It currently employs 2,655 hourly and 145 salaried employees.

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