A year ago, Ford Motor's sprawling assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., which builds the Focus compact car, was on the chopping block as part of the automaker's restructuring plan, putting the lives of its 3,000 workers in flux.
But now — as the struggling U.S. economy has consumers on the hunt for affordable, fuel-efficient cars — the 56-year-old plant and its workers are running a full-out effort: two 9-hour shifts on weekdays, plus some Saturdays to keep up with increasing demand on the redesigned Focus
Focus sales are up 23% overall through March — exceeding even Ford's expectations. In March, retail sales of the Focus, which exclude discounted fleet sales to rental-car companies and other bulk deliveries, were up 35%.
The new Focus, which is Ford's only small car for sale in the United States, is the third best-selling small car in America, behind the No. 1 Honda Civic and No. 2 Toyota Corolla. The redesigned car is taking 7.6% of the U.S. small car market.
With the U.S. economy on the brink of a recession, consumers have been on the hunt for cars like the Focus, which starts at $14,395 and gets 28 mpg in combined city-highway driving. That's 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway for an automatic transmission or 35 mpg for a manual
If they can keep the assembly plants running I think the sales of small compact and midsize 4 cylinder cars will get better