Industry analysts said the vehicle, unnamed but code-named U204, will be built on a car platform, much like the popular CR-V by Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (7267.T) and RAV4 by Toyota Motors Corp. (7203.T).
Ford officials would only say it is an all-new platform, but analyst Joseph Phillippi of Lehman Brothers said it will be an all-wheel-drive version of Mazda Motor Corp.'s (7261.T) 626 car platform. Ford owns about one-third of Mazda, which will introduce its own version of the vehicle shortly after Ford.
The sport utility, to be sold as a Ford-badged 2001 model, will seat five and is expected to get more than 20 miles per gallon. Phillippi expects it to be priced in the low-$20,000 range to start to make it competitive with the Japanese.