Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The still unanswered chalenge!

The still unanswered challenge at Ford is the B segment sub-compact. If sales of GM's Aveo, Honda's Fit and DCX's Caliber/Patriot/Compass triplets and assorted other micro cars aren't enough proof, what will it take for Ford to get off the blocks? The Focus is a good car, could be better if we got the Euro/New Focus, like my Mazda3, and not just an "Americanized" refresh and 2 door coupe. I'm not saying the new coupe is a bad idea, but even with the entry price of the Focus ZX3 below $14k and the 2.0L base model achieving 37 MPG, that's not enough!
Well, that's not entirely true, the numbers for the base Focus are very competative on paper, matching the new batch of "B" entries to our market. But still the perception is that Ford has become stale, not just the Focus, but the entire brand. And while the new Edge and renamed Taurus/Taurus X and even the very capable Fusion are fine, they don't address the perception that Ford isn't bringing fresh product to market.
Some of my earliest blog entries were rants about how Ford has a competative model(s) in their European lineup. The Fiesta/Fusion twins.

The Fusion is based on the very good Fiesta chassis, but is about the size of the Fit. It's a really capable five door wagon with room for most family needs. I've seen the Fusion up close and personal when I was in Ireland on vacation and the pictures don't do justice to how nice this is.

And in Latin American markets there's even an all wheel drive soft roader version called the EcoSport. No dual range transfer case or rock crawling gears, but more than suitable for North Eastern snow storms and the ocassional trip to the beach or hiking. No worse than you get from Subaru, as far as "Off Road" capability goes.

There's been much speculation in the automotive press/blogsphere about Ford utilizing the Mazda2 for their B segment model. That's fine with me, since both the Fiesta and Mazda2 are built on the same platform and share powertrains. If it makes the Japan loving press happy to say it's Mazda based, so be it. But in reality, the European/Latin American production would be cheaper to import than Japanese produced models.

This is a photoshopped guess of what the next Fiesta (sporty version) may look like, from Auto Express, a UK auto magazine.

This is a 2006 Fiesta prepared by a tuner for the Euro market.
Bottom line is, at least to me, is that Ford doesn't have time to speculate or delay. If they truly want to be percieved as making "Bold Moves" they need to do something quick and this could be the move they need to make. It's not all about new Super Duty Trucks! With gasoline prices silently rising to $3 per gallon again, it's time to address the weakness on the entry level part of their lineup.
One further thing, I read online today that Mazda is looking to bring a clean diesel to the US market possibly by 2011. Well where do you think Mazda is going to pull that diesel from? Why from Ford of Europe of course! Mazda sources their diesels from the Franco/Ford partnership.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Look to next year's NAIAS for reveal of pre-production b-car for North America. Sales to begin summer 2009 (I know it is lae, but we have known of this date since 2005). Also look to the 2007 Frankfurt show, as Ford will reveal the EU Fiesta there -the US and EU Fiesta are to be VERY close in appearance.

Ford reportedly had an option to temporarily import the new Indian Fiesta, starting this fall, but it seems Ford wants to launch with a bang - even if it means they will be quite late to the game.

Ford will reveal conventional B-car First. An AWD capable taller "suv" (replacement for EcoSport/ EU Fusion)is in plans for about a year later. This vehicle will be likely called B-max in Europe - it is not clear what name it would be used in US.

Reflex is still in the works as well - it was not approved yet, though. At this moment it is being developed as a global coupe replacing the Puma in Europe - the name "Puma" might be used in US as well. It will likely be upscale starting well above other B-cars, but offering a lot of features and amenities other b-cars will not offer.

I am really hoping that Ford will indeed go forward with the Reflex/Puma.

I hope you like the news.