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Chinese market heavily influenced new Focus, says Ford

by Ronan Glon

Ford went to great lengths to ensure the Focus sells in China.

Ford's design team went to great lengths to give the new Focus a fighting chance on the Chinese market.

Every generation of the Focus hatchback since the original model made its debut in 1998 has received a third side window integrated into the C-pillar. The new model lost its third window because Ford needed to give it wider doors that open at a greater angle. That's key to the car's success in China.

"At the start we had a six-light proposal, and it went back and forth. With China being such a focus on Focus we went with the extra-wide door instead. We had to use common doors between sedan and hatch models," explained Jordan Demkiw, Ford of Europe's exterior design manager, in an interview with Australian website GoAuto.

Ensuring the Focus hatchback appeals to Chinese motorists is somewhat puzzling. Historically, China has been a market where an overwhelming majority of buyers prefer traditional three-box sedans over hatchbacks. Car companies -- including Citroen and Peugeot -- have gone through the trouble of turning hatchbacks into sedans specifically for the Chinese market.

Michael Blischeke, the C2 platform's chief engineer, added his team took an inside-out approach to developing the new Focus to ensure it's at least as spacious at its main rivals.

"We basically positioned mannequins in the rear seat to ascertain the maximum legroom and knee room we needed to be best-in-class, and then we put the components, the seats and wrapped around the sheet metal," he explained.

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