The Ford Focus is a compact car (C-segment in Europe) manufactured by the Ford Motor Company since 1998. Ford began sales of the Focus to Europe in July 1998 and in North America during 1999 for the 2000 model year. In Europe, North and South America, and South Africa, the Focus replaced the various versions of the Ford Escort and Ford Laser sold in those markets. In Asia and Australasia, it replaced the Ford Laser. As of the first half of 2012, the Focus surpassed the Toyota Corolla to become the world's best selling automobile nameplate.
Ford of Europe introduced the Focus in 1998 to the European market as a replacement for the Ford Escort. The decision to name the new car the "Ford Focus" was made in early 1998, as Ford's overheads had been planning to keep the "Escort" nameplate for its new generation of small family cars. A last minute problem arose in July 1998 when a Cologne court, responding to a case brought by the publisher Burda, ordered Ford to avoid the name "Focus" for the cars in the German market since the name was already taken by one of its magazines (Focus).This eleventh hour dispute was resolved, however, and the car was launched with the name Focus. The Focus MK1 was awarded the 1999 European Car of the Year award. There is also a tale floating around certain editions of Motor Trend magazine that Ford executive Jac Nasser actually made the decision of the name Focus the night of that year's Geneva Auto Show because he was annoyed that one of the other names under consideration, Fusion (not the same as the mid-size automobile Ford Fusion), had leaked to the media. Ford of North America began marketing the Focus in October 1999 for the 2000 model year as a surprise Christmas present for Ford's CEO Jacques Nasser, with some changes from the European version. The car launched as a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and five-door wagon; a five-door hatchback debuted in 2001.