Ford Motor Co
The launch of the Ford Focus compact car on a shared platform, or underpinning, around the world allows the car to be made in Asia, Europe and North America using 80 percent common parts and 75 percent of the same supply base.
This whole thing is about economies of scale, said Tony Brown, head of global Ford global purchasing.
Brown, in an interview with Reuters, said the volume of the compact car platform, called the C-segment in the auto industry, gives the automaker and its suppliers the chance to work more closely.
There are 310 suppliers in 22 countries making parts for the new Focus. Ford says 5,500 jobs have been added by suppliers around the world for the Focus, which hits showrooms in North America and Europe in the coming weeks.
The Focus, Ford CEO Alan Mulally has often said, is the best evidence yet of the company's One Ford strategy of radical and sweeping simplification of design, engineering and production systems.
Ford also wants to position itself for more market share in emerging markets such as China and India where smaller cars dominate.
By 2013, Ford expects the Focus-sized platform to account for 2.2 million units of its annual sales globally.
Ford, which still relies on mid-sized or bigger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs for most of its North American sales, was caught flat-footed as were other U.S. automakers when gasoline prices shot to record highs in 2008.
Ford global sales, service and marketing chief Jim Farley said on Thursday that Ford is much better positioned now than in 2008 to pivot when gas prices rise to the point that consumers choose compacts more often. In 2008, Ford's focus was on the launch of a new version of its F-series pickup, which remains the most popular model in North America.
North American sales of cars built from the Focus-sized platform, already expected to rise this year, will skyrocket if oil and gasoline prices spike to more than $4 per gallon as they did in 2008, Farley said.
Brown said efficiencies gained by the volume of the shared platform, as well as working closer with suppliers from the design of parts to production of the Focus, will cut component cost and the retail price.
And Ford wants to widen profit margins for small cars that have traditionally been slim, Brown added.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; editing by Andre Grenon)