The fuel-driven shift to smaller cars in the U.S. is ramping up as Ford has announced today a reduction in the production of its SUV and pickup lineup for the remainder of the year, at the same time confirming production of the European Focus and Fiesta for North America for 2010. Strong demand for the current-generation U.S. Focus has already caused the carmaker to shift more resources toward its production.

The next-generation global Focus is due in 2010, and this latest announcement just ensures Americans will get the car too - and not several years after its European debut as has been the case in the past. The current European variant of the Focus (pictured) has been generally perceived as a better interpretation of the nameplate than its American counterpart, with superior handling and design. The Fiesta small hatch will add even more depth to the low end of Ford's North American-built lineup, and building the cars closer to home could mean more competitive pricing.

Int the meantime, Ford will also be boosting production of the current-generation Ford Focus sedan and the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner crossover SUVs to make the most of its current smaller offerings.

Cutting large SUV and truck production is the theme of the American car industry for 2008, and Ford's announcement that the F-150 redesign will be pushed back two months is equally unsurprising. Shift reductions and slower production line speeds will supplement the additional summer plant idling announced earlier this week in meeting reduced production targets.