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Ford's 2013 Focus Is a Home Run and a Top Safety Pick

Wind back the clock to 2006. Ford (NYSE: F  ) has just handed the reins of the company to Alan Mulally and then proceeded to lose $30 billion over the next two years -- a ridiculously large amount. It was a rough patch for the American icon that once revolutionized the auto industry. The Blue Oval had seen better days.

Mulally had his hands full and set forth his "One Ford" plan for the company to begin its restructuring. His "One Ford" strategy was a huge success, and its turnaround was much quicker than anyone figured possible. It turned a profit much earlier than anyone expected, in 2009, about the time its crosstown rivals filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford's new vehicles -- the Fusion, Focus, and Escape, to name a few -- are proof that the Blue Oval is back.

Ford's 2014 Focus. Photo credit: Ford Motor.

The Focus has been a home run globally and was the world's best-selling nameplate last year. It's currently in competition to take home the crown for world's best-selling vehicle as well, although Toyota's Corolla will have something to say about that.

"Focus and Fiesta represent the culmination of our One Ford global product strategy," said Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president of global marketing, in a Ford press release. "Through One Ford, we're able to bring economies of scale and fantastic value to customers all around the world."

The Focus is the 13th best-selling vehicle in the U.S. but is one of the hottest choices in China and in other international markets. Recently, the Focus added another impressive feat to its list of accolades that should sit very well with consumers. 

The 2013 Ford Focus earned a "Top Safety Pick+" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway, or IIHS, according to a Ford press release. It was one of only six small cars to earn the top marks from IIHS, and it previously earned the federal government's highest five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

"Ford is committed to designing vehicles that help keep people safe," said Steve Kenner, global director of Ford's Automotive Safety Office, in a Ford press release. "We are constantly seeking innovative ways to help drivers avoid accidents and keep occupants safe when an incident does occur." 

Don't tell your kid ...
According to Ford, the Focus also has features such as MyKey technology, an industry exclusive, which is designed for families with teenage drivers. It can be programed to limit the audio system to prevent cranky neighbors, and to restrict the vehicle's top speed of the vehicle to keep parents from worrying. Of course, it comes with the incessant charms and bells to remind the driver and passenger about seat belts, but MyKey goes one step further, muting the radio if the occupants aren't buckled. Pretty funny, in my opinion. 

Investing takeaway
From an investing standpoint, the Focus has been instrumental in growing Ford's market share globally. China is already the world's largest and fastest-growing auto market, and the Focus has been a hot choice there, helping Ford with its goal of doubling market share in the region by 2015. This is one of the most important developments for Ford, because it's years behind market leaders General Motors and Volkswagen.

Another important factor with the global success of the Focus is the economies of scale it creates when its sales top 1 million, as they did last year. Ford has trimmed its number of platforms down from 27 in 2007, to its goal of having 80% of sales from 14 platforms next year -- a goal it's on pace to achieve. That means that as more and more sales ring up across fewer platforms, it secures Ford's already strong margins and profits going forward -- a great development for potential investors. 

A decade ago, consumers and investors alike couldn't imagine any Detroit automaker that could produce a well-designed, valuable, fuel-efficient ride. Those days are gone. Ford's market share has surged in the U.S. more than any other full-line automaker this year because of success with its highly popular Fusion, Focus, Escape, and F-Series. Investors have enjoyed the ride as Ford's stock price has nearly doubled over the past 12 months -- and the good ride looks to continue thanks to success of the Focus and other vehicles as they begin to make their debuts overseas.

Ford and GM are great investing opportunities, and the best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool's free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich" names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.

Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 1:40 PM, AustraliAmerican wrote:

    I have a lease on Ford Focus. As i have stated in numerous surveys, and to numerous sales people and to many service technicians... this is the worst "new car" i have ever had. i have been driving since age 14 and of the 29 vehicles i have owned/leased, this one has been THE worst of the new cars. The list of irritations seem endless, and i can only therefore assume it's the poor craftsmanship and subsequent lack of good quality control coupled with adolescent engineering and first attempt software the rattles in the manifold, shakes in acceleration, vibrations in the body, noises from the doors and roof panel, sputtering and choking going uphill, engine hesitation and/or extremely jittery starts, electrical malfunctions with door locks and electronics, foam deterioration in the trunk... the list goes on and on. SYNC is highly astringent as to what it will 'sync' with; the Hill Assist should not be on ANY car, especially when the programming is such that it will actually engage and BACK you up, downhill! We are so glad we are leasing this car and are going to give it back in less than 8 months. Sadly, this is the last domestic product we will lease/purchase. I said that 10 years ago after having a similar issue with a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle...but gave the US Automakers time to 'build a better mousetrap'...and now, i see the same list of irritations, and again i can only feel it's the poor craftsmanship and subsequent lack of good quality control coupled with adolescent engineering that makes this vehicle so poor. We have less than 12,000 miles on the Focus... it runs, sounds and handles and performs like it has 120,000 miles and is 40 years old. The US Automakers are never going to get it right until they admit their methods are not working, and start to mimic those that are working. The US Makers need to engineer like Germany, Quality Control like Japan, develop customer service like Sweden, and produce volume like China. U.S.A. is not a synonym for B.E.S.T. Arrogance has been the downfall and laziness is the product. Until humility can remove the chip from the proverbial shoulder, the US Auto Industry will continue to struggle and spiral down with seemingly no direction. Educated consumers see this writing on the wall. Fiat owning Chrysler, GM trying desperately to trim the fat and stay alive, and Mazda divorcing from Ford many years of collaboration!??! It's embarrassing. I wish the US Auto Industry all the luck and better sales in the future…they are just going to have to do it without my money until a better product comes along. If Ford is going to survive, it needs to adapt faster, better and stronger traits. Take a lesson from evolution: survival of the fittest. Right now, US Auto Makers are riding a slow comet to extinction.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:14 PM, Jason87467 wrote:

    The Ford Focus a home run? It's to show writers don't do their homework before writing. The Focus has serious problems. The transmission comes to mind for one of it's problem. A friend of mine bought one and now complains that in low gear it shudders. I told him to buy a Chevy Cruze, but didn't, because of the Government Motors thing.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:17 PM, pantha104 wrote:

    I must have been one of the lucky ones. I like my Focus Titanium 2013. I purchased it in Dec 2012. It steers and is very responsive and has enough power. The only problem I had was that the motherboard of the "Sync system" was defective. But after replacement it has worked great.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 2:54 PM, herky46q wrote:

    The car has its proponents in automotive media. Consumer Reports does not give it the recommended rating. I could not get over the wild design and went with a German competitor. The stereo sounded nice in the Focus.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 3:16 PM, Ckalltheway wrote:

    I think that australiamerica you should early term your lease and get out of America ASAP !!!!!! Ford rocks keep up the good work ford love the focus !!!!

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 4:57 PM, bcweir wrote:

    Daniel Miller should try getting an education in automobiles before writing about them. When only one comment in seven has a positive comment about the article subject matter, it exposes the ignorance on the account of the writer.

    I wonder what kind of vehicle Daniel Miller drives. Either way, it would be a pretty telling testimony about his potential conflict of interest in writing this article. If he does own a Ford Focus, it's a glaring conflict of interest to write a positive piece about it that has nothing to do with the facts. And if he doesn't, I hope he waited for Ford's check to clear before he cashed it and wrote the article.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 5:21 PM, Hockeynktown wrote:

    Great car, not sure what those with issues are thinking. Its mostly a sub 20k car, and is double the throw away Kias and such ever thought about being. I can only guess your from another mark. With that many issues, we all know total... you know what.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 7:22 PM, Proab wrote:

    How much does ford pay for thes "adds"?

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 9:02 PM, debug013 wrote:

    I have a 2011 Focus with 53K miles averages 34mpg mixed city/highway. Haven't done a thing to it except change oil every 5k. Same with my wife's 2009 Taurus 57K miles averages 24mpg mixed city/highway, oil change every 5K. My 2010 F150 supercrew 4X4 likewise 51K miles, 15mpg mixed city/highway, change oil every 5K miles. I've had no issue with any of these vehicles. Ford makes great automobiles.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 9:47 PM, burlingtonuc wrote:

    What the author failed to mention was that a total of 6 vehicles earned "Top Safety Pick +" but only one of the six earned the top rating of "good" in the new Overlap Frontal Crash Test which was the Honda Civic.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 10:44 PM, emjayay wrote:

    Consumer reports does not give the Focus a Recommended rating because of complaints about the Sync system - the touchscreen control system. The software has been updated a number of times, and it now comes with some knobs for some functions. Maybe that will reduce the complaints.

    As for people going on about American cars, the Focus is a world design that actually came out in Europe a year or two before being introduced here.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 10:53 PM, emjayay wrote:

    In other world car news, the Buick Regal was out in Europe as an Opel Insignia a year or two earlier, and the Buick Verano is a sedan version of the Opel Astra hatchback that was out for a year or two. Both mostly German designed and built. Both also available in the UK as Vauxhalls. The first new Regals were German built but now both are made in the US. Dodge Dart underpinnings are from a Fiat already out in Europe and future Chrysler models will be shared back and forth with Fiat. Obviously car designs are becoming international.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2013, at 10:54 PM, emjayay wrote:

    Oh, you can get a Focus without the Sync at all by getting the base model, which still has a lot of other equipment.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 12:01 AM, kca124cain wrote:

    Too bad they no longer have the 2 door. A 2 door hatchback (3 door) would be great.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2013, at 12:04 AM, kca124cain wrote:

    Consumer reports does a pretty good job on toasters and alarm clocks, but they seem to lack expertise on cars.

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