More stories related to Geneva Motor Show GENEVA – The Ford Focus ST is in a hurry.

In the past, Ford Motor Co.’s performance model traditionally has come out near the middle of a product cycle. But the auto maker uses the auto show here for the world premier of the Focus ST, which is due out within a year of the introduction of the redesigned Focus family for Europe, Asia and other markets. (See related story: Ford Plans Splash for Geneva Show)

The speed-to-market is possible with Ford’s global shared-technologies approach to product development. Under the plan, the auto maker created Ford Team RS that combines the talent of Ford of Europe’s motorsports engineers with internal performance-car development teams.

The 3-door hatchback is powered by Ford’s turbocharged 2.5L 5-cyl. Duratec engine mated to a 6-speed manual. More specifications will come closer to the car’s launch.

Ford Focus ST

The instrument pod, atop the traditional gauge cluster, creates a new look, visible even from the outside. The hardware includes dials to monitor turbo-boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure.

In addition, Ford is preparing to launch the new Focus sedan, which debuts in Geneva and is to be built in Valencia, Spain, for global markets. The 4-door is the final body style of the core Focus model range and will be sold in a variety of markets outside of Europe, not including North America.

It joins the 3-door, 5-door, wagon and Focus C-Max multi-activity vehicle.

Now that the core is established, the Focus family is set to start spawning additional niche derivatives within the next two years, including a drop-top and potential cross/utility vehicle.

The Vignale convertible, shown as a concept in Paris, also has been given the green light for production at the end of 2006, although it may not retain the Vignale name. (See related story: Vignale May Signal Future Focus Flare)

Ford has entered an agreement with Pininfarina SpA to create a joint design and engineering team to produce the low-volume convertible. The Italian design house will be a significant contributor to the final product, Ford says.

Based on the 4-door Focus, the Vignale will be built at Pininfarina’s manufacturing facilities in Turin with some parts sourced from Ford’s Saarlouis, Germany, plant. It will be the first Ford of Europe car to feature a retractable hardtop. The body will likely be reduced to two doors in order to accommodate a large trunk.

The auto maker also shows a Focus C-Max research vehicle with prototype hydrogen internal combustion engine during its auto show press conference. Dubbed the Focus C-Max H2-ICE, it was developed by the Ford Research Center in Aachen, Germany, to evaluate the potential of a hydrogen internal combustion engine as an important step toward establishing a hydrogen economy, the company says.

apriddle@primediabusiness.com