In yet another sign of the times at Ford, it looks like the factory that builds what was not so long ago the best-selling SUV on the plant is shifting gears. Ford's Louisville, KY assembly that has built the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer for two decades will switch to building small cars in 2010. The current Focus will be replaced by a model developed by Ford of Europe at that time and production will be expanded from the current Wayne, MI assembly location location to Louisville. With the latest capacity increase at Wayne, Ford has capacity for 280,000 Focuses a year. Sales of the compact are already up 35.7 percent this year based largely on its fuel economy.

The new Euro-designed Focus will come in sedan and five door hatchback body styles when it arrives. With the shift to a common platform, current Europe-only variants, including the C-Max compact MPV, are likely to join the U.S. lineup. The new compacts will get direct injected engines and six-speed automatic and manual transmissions to further enhance fuel economy.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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