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Ford to focus on shared parts

Ford Motors is to share basic components between its larger European cars from Volvo and Mazda, after an experiment with common parts for small cars saved almost $200m (£111m) from annual production costs and reduced investment by $65m (£36m).

The company is also considering how far Jaguar, its loss making luxury brand, should be included in the project, which is called Global Shared Technologies. Past attempts to save money by producing Jaguars using the platforms that underlie the Ford Mondeo and a US Lincoln model have resulted in criticism of the resulting cars.

Mark Fields, head of Ford's European operations, said the company had started work on systems that would be used as the base for the replacement for the Volvo S80 and the Mondeo large saloons. Mazda engineers are also involved, and the Mazda 6, Mazda MPV and the Ford Galaxy minibus are all likely to be based on the same set of technology. He says: “We have got to leverage the scale of Ford Motor Company.”

Ford, in common with other carmakers, retreated from attempts to build cars from common platforms after they resulted in different brands producing similar cars. The Jaguar X-Type was particularly criticised for being based on the Ford Mondeo, which meant that it could not have rear-wheel drive.

As a result the company is cautious about whether to include the X-Type in the new development, fearing that the replacement for Jaguar's highest-volume car could again be tainted by the “sales rep” image of the Mondeo.

The first application of the shared technology approach was with the Ford Focus in Europe, which shares up to 70% of parts with the C-Max people carrier and more than half of its components with the similarly-sized Volvo S40 and the Mazda 3.

“We have a Volvo S40 that drives, looks and feels like a Volvo,” says Fields. “We have the Ford C-Max that is aligned with Ford and we have a Mazda that is definitely a Mazda.”


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