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Five seats are enough for Scenic rival, says Ford

Ford has decided its forthcoming Focus-based multi-activity vehicle will be available with a five-seat configuration only after extensive customer research showed there was no market for a seven-seat variant. The five-seater MAC, a rival to the Renault Scenic and Citroen Picasso, will debut at the Paris motor show in September. It is expected to go on sale across Europe in early 2003.

Analysts were predicting a seven-seat option and are surprised that Ford does not intend to offer a competitor to the Vauxhall Zafira. The Zafira, launched three years ago with an innovative flexible seven-seat system, sold 33,655 models last year in the UK, up 46 per cent on 2000.

Despite the Zafira's sales growth, Ford believes that the market for seven-seaters is not that large, particularly when compared to the five-seater compact MPV sector. Picasso, the top-selling compact MPV, sold 46,612 in 2001 (compared to 12,665 in 2000), while the Scenic was second on 40,412 units, up 15.8 per cent year-on-year.

“Our research shows that the market for seven-seaters isn't there because the size of the vehicle compromises on luggage space - we have no plans to launch a rival to the Zafira,” says a Ford spokesman.

MAC's Fiesta-based little brother, Fusion, made its debut at this year's Geneva show. Ford will also continue to produce the seven-seater Galaxy. The next generation people carrier will be based on the Mondeo platform when Ford ends its joint venture with Volkswagen at the Palmela, Portugal, plant, which also makes the Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra.

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