Ford is planning to delay the launch of its new Mondeo again, putting the next generation of the popular family car back to the 'end of 2014'.
The company has announced the new target date as part of its fresh drive to cut costs in its European division. The Ford factory at Genk in Belgium, where the current Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy are produced, is destined to close by the end of 2014, subject to discussions with union bosses.
In a clarification issued today, Ford states, 'The new Mondeo, available with the award-winning 1.0-litre Ecoboost and all-wheel drive, will now be launched in late 2014, if the plans for Genk are confirmed.'
That new date means the current Mondeo will be eight years old before its replacement arrives. The next generation, which is closely linked to the American-market Fusion, was originally due at the start of 2013. That date then slipped back to 'autumn 2013', and Ford attempted to start the build-up to sales by unveiling the European version of the car in September this year.
However, the complexities of adapting the Valencia factory for Mondeo production are likely to have forced Ford into this further delay. It means that the Mondeo will have to fend off fresher rivals such as the new Mazda 6 and VW Passat.
A Ford spokesman said: 'It takes this length of time to transfer the model over. We'll continue to sell the existing model built at Genk right up to that point.'
Ford's European boss, Stephen O'Dell, told What Car? that the company is 'confident' the current Mondeo can remain competitive for another two years. 'We think it's in a good place at the moment,' he said, 'and the demand is still strong. There are things we can and will do with the current car, in the powertrain line-up, to keep it strong.'
It's likely that this could mean revisions to the engine and transmission, which could cut a few g/km from the Mondeo's CO2 figures.
The 1.6-litre turbodiesel version of the current Mondeo has been well received in continental Europe, but Ford GB has struggled to switch 2.0-litre diesel buyers to the smaller engine.