Ford super hatch drives off into the sunset.
After posting massive losses in Q1, Ford has confirmed more bad news to British industry insiders Autocar: there will be no evolution of its celebrated RS-badge.
For decades Ford’s European designers and engineers have built RS-badged passenger cars, at times to fulfil homologation requirements, but also to ensure that enthusiast followers of the blue oval badge had something to aspire too.
That Ford RS heritage is now scheduled to become a fact of history, without any future plans.
Although South African Ford fans have been prepared for such disappointment, due to the latest-generation ST vehicles not being marketed here, it will still come as a shock to committed followers of the RS sub-brand.
Rumours have been milling in Europe, since the start of this year, that Ford’s RS strategy would be suspended. Initially, it was assumed that hybridization would ensure a next-generation Focus RS, but the development cost of adding an electric drive to the platform's rear axle proved too expensive.
Passengers cars have certainly taken a back seat in Ford's vehicle strategy, with the brand overcommitting to its profitable bakkies and larger SUVs in recent years. This has been seen in SA where the once, thousand plus a month Fiesta has seen its numbers drop to around 15% of that. Models like the Ecosport, Ranger and Everest have pushed Ford's numbers of late.
Without a viable passenger car market in North America, the Focus RS had effectively become a European model, creating issues. As surging emissions regulation and penalties wait to be deployed in the European car market, Ford decided to call it quits rather than seek a costly solution.
The absence of a fourth-generation Focus RS will deliver Ford hot hatch fans into a future dominated by German or even Korean alternatives.
With Ford focussing on the American market and a global portfolio of bakkies to drive its return to profitability, niche products such as Focus RS, have become completely irrelevant.