Ford Revs Up Small-Car Line

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

(Courtesy of The Detroit News)

Automaker plans compacts with performance

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out small cars for every taste and driving style.

A Ford Fiesta ST concept will make its global debut Nov. 16 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Also whetting consumers’ appetites for performance vehicles will be the new Focus ST for North America.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ford on Wednesday opened a website to accept reservations for the new all-electric 2012 Focus EV that will start at $39,995, including a $795 destination charge.

The price is the same as the 2012 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car, but more than the all-electric Nissan Leaf at $35,200. All are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

The first Focus EVs will be delivered by year end, starting in California, New York and New Jersey. But the bulk of deliveries will be in 2012, said spokesman Daniel Pierce.

The electric Focus, which Ford hopes will run 100 miles on a single charge, is substantially more expensive than a conventional model that starts at $17,295.

Sales of the Focus in October dipped from a year ago, but Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, insists he is happy with the car’s U.S. sales.

“November and December will be the first time we will have appropriate inventory levels,” Fields said, adding that the company has worked through unspecified launch issues.

Michigan Assembly in Wayne is now running at full speed, he said.

And Fields said he is pleased that Focus sales have doubled on the West Coast.

For those wanting a more spirited small car, the L.A. show will be the first look at a five-door Fiesta ST with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine delivering about 177 horsepower. It complements a three-door Fiesta ST concept unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt auto show.

Together, they indicate what a Fiesta ST would look like when it joins the Focus ST in Ford’s small-car portfolio. ST stands for “sport technology.”

The Fiesta ST is inspired by the Fiesta RS World Rally and Fiesta Rallycross cars.

The larger Focus ST that will go on sale in North America next year has a 2-liter EcoBoost engine and is expected to get 250 horsepower.

“It’s a chance to take the brand to places where it’s never been,” said Jim Farley, head of marketing, sales and service.

Ford Racing dates back 110 years, but today’s definition of performance has broadened to incorporate rally cars, X Games and drifting, which appeal to the millennials. Ford’s marketing machine is aligning its vehicles with these popular sports.

“Four years ago, we knew the products were coming, and we started working on the marketing side,” Farley said of the new Fiesta and Focus now on the market.

The Focus is Ford’s first truly global car, making the Focus ST — to be sold in 40 countries — the first global performance vehicle for the automaker that used to tailor its vehicles to specific markets, said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief nameplate engineer.

“The Fiesta ST concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model,” said Jost Capito, Ford director of Global Performance Vehicles.

About Guest Writer