Monday, August 10
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The Focus ST that is currently in showrooms could be the last of Ford’s current breed of turbo hatchbacks, with hybrid power likely to take over the next model.

Stefan Muenzinger (boss of Ford Performance Europe), told Australian media during a video conference for the local launch of the new Ford Focus ST that he was not permitted to talk about future model programs. Interesting.

Stefan Muenzinger did note that hybrid power was likely to come in future generations of the Focus ST.

When asked if future Ford hot hatches would be obliged to adopt hybrid or electric power, Mr Muenzinger said: “In Europe as you know there are significant CO2 constraints (and) legislation. Manufacturers must meet CO2 fleet consumption targets, which really puts tremendous pressure on (car manufacturers) as a fleet, to deliver on those targets. I think the answer is somewhat yes.”

Mr Muenzinger added: “If you do a fully conventional (Focus) RS type product with a CO2 above 200 grams (per kilometre), it just really really hurts you for your fleet compliance. From a business proposition perspective, it really starts to have a negative impact just simply due to CO2 and (the) penalties associated with it.”

When asked if this meant a Ford Focus ST hybrid was inevitable for the next generation due in about five or six years from now, Mr Muenzinger said: “As you can imagine there are all sorts of studies ongoing, and I can’t give you any particular timeframe here, but we are looking at things. We are looking at what would customers like and what makes sense from a business perspective … but yeah (hybrid) is under consideration, absolutely.”

Mr Muenzinger was asked if the current generation Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST would be the last of the traditional hot hatch breed from Ford before hybrid kicks in, where he answered: “Could be, yeah.”

He also added: “can’t really talk about successors as you can imagine, (but) from a fully conventional hot hatch perspective at least in the C (hatchback) segment … that’s why we announced we’re not going to do a conventional Focus RS … it’s tough to do a fully conventional hot hatch in that segment in Europe.”

This isn’t all doom and gloom. Hybrid cars have the potential to be insanely fun. Key word: potential. Car manufacturers have just decided to make hybrids as dull and boring as burnt toast.

The instant torque of electric motors, coupled with the power from petrol engines has the potential to create a truly quick and exciting car, whilst still returning great fuel economy, providing the best of the both worlds. The electric motor/s would need to be powerful enough to offer enough juice in the low end (and not cut out at 10-20kmh like other hybrids today).

With instant torque, huge power gains, and kinetic energy recovery from braking, hybrid hot hatches could be a future worth looking forward to, but for now, we will need to wait and see.

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