With sales continuing to tumble in North America and profits sliding, Ford is looking to its successful European division for inspiration for its next-generation vehicle fleet. Ford’s current focus is to improve fuel-efficiency throughout its North American lineup and one of the easiest ways to do this will be to bring over economical models from fuel-conscious Europe.

CEO Alan Mulally has confirmed the carmaker’s new product strategy will call for increased globalization of small and medium-sized vehicles from Ford's European operations. The cars will be more expensive than previous Blue Oval compacts sold in the U.S. but by spreading development and investment costs across a global volume prices will be able to stay at a reasonable level, reports Automotive News.

The first of the European designed cars will be the Fiesta compact, however the North American version will be sourced from a plant in Mexico in early 2010. Both a five-door hatchback and sedan are planned, with U.S. volumes expected to top 90,000 units annually.

Under consideration is a new compact MPV based on the Fiesta platform, which could be assembled at Ford's plant in Kentucky and go on sale as early as 2011. However, production plans are still in the early stages and no green light has been given.

Following the Fiesta will be the new globally-engineered Focus. The new car will come in sedan and five-door hatchback bodystyles, and will be built at plants in Michigan and Kentucky.

In late 2011, the next-generation C-Max MPV will likely reach U.S. showrooms. The C-Max will be based on the new Focus and if approved for the U.S. will be manufactured alongside its Focus sibling in Michigan.

Current U.S. models like the Fusion sedan will remain, but will receive a number of major updates to keep them fresh. The Fusion will undergo a styling change for the 2010 model year and will see the introduction of a hybrid version.

The Fusion is currently based on a modified Mazda6 platform, but is expected to move to a new global platform for the 2013 model year. This new designed will also spawn the next-generation Mondeo midsize sedan.

The Taurus will go in for a major update early next year and adapt many of the new features from the recently launched Lincoln MKS. The car will get a much sleeker look but will still be based on the current model’s D3 platform. The Taurus X crossover is expected to be dropped from Ford’s lineup as it will be replaced by the new Flex.

The Crown Victoria and its Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car siblings will likely be dropped after the current model cycle ends, expected to be early next year, and no replacement is planned. Ford is currently reconsidering its RWD strategy but the project is still safe for now.

One RWD model that won’t be going anywhere is the Mustang, which gets a major overhaul next year including revised styling and a new range of engines. The car is expected to be shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show this November before going on sale early next year.

The next-generation Mustang was meant to be developed on Ford’s new global RWD platform but if the project is dropped the new model will retain its current platform, although it will likely be heavily reworked.

More European models are planned include the next-generation Ford Kuga crossover (current model pictured), which is expected to spawn a U.S. version to be sold as the new Escape SUV. The Escape replacement is expected to be slightly smaller and more fuel efficient than today's model and should arrive in time for the 2012 model year.

Finally, Ford will introduce an extensively restyled Edge crossover in late 2010, which should keep sales going until the new model arrives around 2013.