Ford Focus at night

Why Was the Ford Focus the Most Scrapped Car of 2021?

A lot of cars are sent to the scrap heap every year and, as you’d expect, we have a record of each and every one of them. Last year, and indeed for the past five years, the same old regulars have been appearing on our lists, with the top-five in particular reading very similarly every twelve months. Even in the tumultuous 2020, when the whole world was turned upside down, the most scrapped cars of the year remained consistent.

But, for the last half-decade, one car has ruled them all. A model that has dominated scrapyards up and down the country. A vehicle that has probably kept business booming for some scrap dealers single-handedly. That car is the Ford Focus. The question now… is why?

Ford Focus Driving

A Brief History of the Ford Focus

The creation of British and German Ford designers, the Focus was developed and released onto the European market in 1998 as the successor to the immensely popular Escort. A year later, it hit America.

The first generation (MK1) Focus was immediately successful, winning European Car of the Year in 1999, then three years later, the high-performance RS version launched, with just under half of the 4,501 units being sold here in the UK.

In 2004, the MK2 Focus launched with a bigger, heavier body and more modern technology like adaptive front lighting and Bluetooth integration. A year later, the MK2 RS model was introduced. Then, in 2007, the standard Focus MK2 was given a facelift, updating the look for a more modern market.

After eight years with the MK2, Ford released the third generation of Focus in 2011. This model launched simultaneously around the world and, as expected, featured more up-to-date styles and tech both inside and out.

Finally, towards the end of the decade, Ford revealed the fourth-gen Focus. As of 2022, no RS model has been launched, but in 2021, the base Focus did receive a facelift. With Ford discontinuing all passenger vehicles (except the Mustang) in the United States, the future of the Focus may lie back on our shores.

Why Is The Ford Focus Scrapped More Than Any Other Car?

Of course, it would be impossible to answer this question without surveying every owner of a scrapped Focus to find out why they each parted with their Ford. Since that’s not something we’ve implemented, the next best thing is some in-depth analysis. 

Why are Ford Focuses (or Foci, as some call them) sent to the scrapyard the most? Is there one particular reason, or do a number of factors come into play to result in these Ford’s coming through our doors here at Scrap Car Comparison?

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Are Ford Focuses Just More Popular?

We realise that the answer to this question could simply be that more Ford Focuses have been sold, meaning that there’s more to be scrapped. It’s a completely fair assumption, given the fact that on any given roadtrip, you’re likely to run into at least one Focus.

But, as of 2019, Ford had only sold 2 million Focuses. This is an incredibly impressive number considering the car has only been in existence for 24 years, but stats gathered even earlier (2014) put the Focus eighth in the UK’s all-time best-selling car table. In fact, even now, the Focus is miles off the top four – still some distance behind the Cortina, with 2.5 million total sales.

So, why aren’t the top three best sellers – the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Escort and Ford Fiesta – scrapped the most? The answer could still be to do with popularity, but within a more specific period of time.

The Average Age of a Scrap Car

Most cars reach the end of their life naturally after about 14 years. After almost one-and-a-half decades, the vehicle will begin to deteriorate and show major signs of wear and tear. Not to mention, the features of the car will be significantly outdated and below-par for modern drivers.

Taking a look back through the new registration figures for each of the top-five most scrapped cars, the best selling vehicle of the noughties was indeed the Ford Focus, and it wasn’t even close. Fourteen years ago, in 2008, 99,000 new Focuses were registered in the UK. Incidentally, this was the first year of the decade that sales dipped below 100,000. By comparison, the second-most scrapped car – Vauxhall’s Astra – only registered 88,000 new units.

The Corsa, however, was a much closer competitor for the Focus in the year that also brought us Lewis Hamilton’s first F1 title… and Twilight. With 98,000 cars shifted, Vauxhall’s hatchback sold just over 1,000 units less than the Focus, but slipped to third in the ‘most scrapped car of 2021’ table.

14 years is just an average, after all. For the rest of the noughties, the Focus sold considerably better than the rest. From 2001 to 2009, the top-five most scrapped cars sold as follows:

Make & ModelSales

2002, although 20 years ago now (take a moment to process that if you need), was especially fruitful for the American company, with the Focus breaking the 150,000 sales mark!

So surely that’s that? The law of averages tells us that the best selling car will be the most scrapped. Well, a lot can happen on the road to send cars to an early grave. We can’t assess these stats in great detail and only talk about age

Does the Ford Focus Crash More Often?

One of those factors that can result in cars being scrapped before their time is, of course, accident damage. Not every accident that writes off a Ford Focus will be the fault of its driver, but regardless, Rivervale Leasing compiled stats from the Department for Transport to find out which car was most commonly crashed in the UK between 2015 and 2019.

The Focus registered 273 accidents per 10,000 models on the UK’s roads. This, however, only placed Ford’s car at sixth in the standings and interestingly, the ‘top 10 most accident-prone cars’ list almost contains the exact same vehicles as the ‘top 10 most scrapped cars of 2021‘ table (8 of the 10 are the same).

While the Focus is beaten by its scrap list competitors on the accident standings, the difference is negligible – less than 100 more accidents per 10,000 models for the top five, with the exception of the first-placed Vauxhall Zafira, with a whopping 511 accidents per 10,000.

So, this does suggest that accidents lead to more Focuses being scrapped, but is probably not impactful enough to be the sole reason the Ford Focus tops the chart every year.

Graph of which 10 cars have been in the most accidents

Is the Ford Focus Less Reliable Than Other Cars?

A further condition to consider is just how reliable Ford Focuses are reported to be. The MK2 Focus seemed to suffer from an unusual number of leakage issues, with liquid leaking out and rainwater getting in. But, if these cars are prone to problems that might prove costly to repair, even owners of newer Focuses may resort to scrapping earlier than the 14 year mark.

Looking into performance of the third generation Focus (2011-2018) there are certain mechanical problems that tend to crop up fairly regularly, particularly in the pre-facelift version that was produced from 2011 to 2014. Owners of the Focus MK3 often reported degas pipe failures and severe clutch issues, with the latter even prompting Ford in the USA and Brazil to extend warranties to seven and ten years respectively.

If these issues are as serious and persistent as they seem to be, it surely must have resulted in at least a few Ford Focuses, particularly those from closer to the 2011 launch, being sold as scrap or salvage.

The Future of the Ford Focus

Now that we’ve established why the Ford Focus might be being scrapped more often, let’s look to the future. Will it hold onto the title of ‘most scrapped car’ in 2022 as well? Only time will tell, but we can make a prediction. With the main influencing factor up to this point being the number of sales in the noughties, we can use the statistics from later years to try and predict the Ford Focus’ future.

Peak Ford Focus Popularity

Unfortunately for Ford, the Focus is well and truly past its peak now, with the highest number concurrently licensed on UK roads being a fraction under 1.5 million, in 2014. Since then, the amount of Focuses in this country has gradually declined and as of early 2022, the model is clinging on the one-million mark by the skin of its teeth.

Although the reason for the decline will, of course, be that Focuses are being scrapped, it does not guarantee that the car will remain king of the scrap heap. We’ve looked at the noughties and we’ve just discussed the ‘20s, but what about the period in between?

The Ageing Ford Focus Population

From 2009 (13 years ago) to 2014, the Focus registered half a million new units, but was not top amongst the most scrapped cars of 2021. In fact, new registrations of the Ford Focus plummeted to just under 77,000 in 2010. Within this period, the Ford Fiesta was actually the best of the bunch, with the Corsa just 12,000 units behind the Focus.

So, as these cars are now hitting the grand old age of 14, did we crown a new most scrapped car in 2022?

If your Focus (or absolutely any other vehicle) is ready for the scrap heap, whether that’s down to age or unreliability, sell it with us at Scrap Car Comparison. We’ll get you the best prices in just 30 seconds and be free to choose the deal that suits you best. Better still, our network of scrap dealers is so extensive that we can offer free collection of your car, no matter where you are in the country. Get a quote and find out how much your car could be worth as scrap or salvage today.

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