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Paris
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PARIS – Ford Motor Co. has survived the economic storm that crippled its competitors, now it’s time to set sail for success, the auto maker’s CEO says.

Within “a couple of years,” 80% of Ford vehicles worldwide will be based on global platforms, Alan Mulally says here at the Paris auto show after introducing the Ford Focus ST, a high-performance hatchback.

The car, destined for the European market, is based on a global platform that will account for more than 2 million sales annually, he adds.

North America will get its version of the Focus next year.

The next milestone happens when the next-generation Fusion midsize sedan, Ford’s North American-market midsize car, merges platforms with the next-generation Ford Mondeo, sold here and in Asia.

The consolidations began with the 2009 rollout of the Ford Fiesta B-car.

“You’ll see us growing now in India and in China on the strength of these global platforms,” Mulally tells Ward’s, noting there exists sufficient design flexibility to support tweaks that will reflect customer demands peculiar to specific regions.

The Focus platform will support 10 “top hats,” he adds. Among them are the Focus C-Max and Grand C-Max cross/utility vehicles.

“We are starting to move to grow,” Mulally says. “Our plan now is a complete acceleration around the world.”

And technology-rich content is critical to this accelerated growth initiative, he adds.

Stephen Odell, in his first major public appearance since being named chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe last month, says consumers who consider the Blue Oval brand are three times more likely to buy after the auto maker’s Sync telematics system is explained to them.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Paris show, Mulally tells Ward’s company founder Henry Ford likely would agree with the strategy he and his management team are implementing.

“He set (the company) up to operate easily around the world; but he never thought it would operate autonomously,” Mulally says, referring to the previous regime that saw minimal technology sharing between the various global sales regions.

In keeping with this theme, Ford today launches a campaign via the Facebook social media website. The auto maker is inviting the Ford site’s 500,000 fans to enter a contest to win a chance to drive the new Focus for two days in Europe, all expenses paid.

Ford will select 100 winners who also will receive the equivalent of $10,000 each to donate to a charitable cause.

emayne@wardsauto.com