Ford Adds a Hatchback Model to North American Fiesta Lineup

Ford will build all the Fiesta models in Mexico, sell the cars here in North America

By Brendan Moore

05.30.2008

Automotive News is reporting that Ford has pulled the trigger on selling a hatchback model of the Fiesta sub-compact that is due to appear in North America in 2010.

The Fiesta name hasn’t been used on a Ford car in North America since 1981, when the German-built Ford Fiesta hatchback was sold here. The nameplate has been in use in the rest of the world since that time.

Ford has been wrestling with whether to sell a hatchback version of the car in North America, and now has apparently decided that the upside to doing so outweighs the downside. Ford has been wary of selling a hatchback in the U.S. since many American buyers tend to hear “cheap” when they hear “hatchback”. Witness the fact that the Ford Focus is sold in the U.S. currently only in sedan form, despite the fact that everyone else in the world loves the hatchback style.

But, Ford has determined that there is a future for the hatchback bodystyle in the small car segment, despite its recent travails. Our sources tell us that the following data tilted towards offering a hatchback in the Fiesta:

– Other manufacturers are doing well with the configuration. The Honda Fit, VW, Rabbit, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Aveo, etc. come in hatchback form.

– 18-25 year-olds are much more open to a hatchback configuration, and in fact, many in this age group find the fact that it is different-looking than the majority of other vehicles on the road in the U.S. somewhat appealing.

– Older people and empty-nesters are downsizing and don’t want a crossover-sized vehicle but still want the utility and thriftiness of a small hatchback.

– It is believed that a growing percentage of all drivers will become more interested in a hatchback bodystyle over the next decade as they realize the hatchback vehicles offer the same quality and amenities as other bodysyles, in addition to added utility.

Ford stated that production of both the hatchback and the sedan versions of the Fiesta will begin at Ford’s Cuautitlan, Mexico, plant starting in early 2010. Ford announced earlier this morning that they’re going to pour $3 billion USD into Mexico over the next few years, and the Fiesta production is part of that investment.

There is a bit of mystery regarding just which hatchback will be sold in North America, though. According to the Automotive News article:

It’s not clear whether the hatchback Fiesta will be a three-door, five-door or come in both configurations. Ford officials in Dearborn would not confirm the number of doors today. However, Herman Morfin, a Ford spokesman at the plant, said both hatchbacks would be offered alongside the sedan in the United States. He later modified his comment to say Ford hasn’t determined which version of the hatchback will be sent to the U.S.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, in a press conference, said the automaker hasn’t decided which configuration will be used. “Ford is absolutely committed to leveraging our global assets to accelerate the shift to more fuel-efficient small cars and powertrain technologies that people really want and value,” Mulally said in a statement.

I guarantee he means every one of those words. The shift to small cars in the U.S. completely wrecked Ford’s plan for returning to profitability, and they want to get back on track as soon as possible, and they need more small cars to sell in order to do that.

Ford released the following PR photos of the Fiesta to all the media publications today; we have posted them here so you can see the difference between the 3DR and the 5DR bodystyles.


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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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5 Comments

  1. The Mulally Effect: Ford North America is starting to open its eyes.

    By 2011 (hopefully, 2010, but they can’t move that fast) Ford should have a completely redone lineup. I just hope the company can tough it out in the meantime.

  2. I’m in agrrement about the Mulally Effect, and I hope Ford decides to sell both the 3-door and the 5-door in the U.S. I think the logic used in deciding to offer a hatchback will prove itself out in the next five years. I think Americans will stop sneering at hatchbacks as gas goes up. After all, what is a “crossover” except a really big hatchback? Let’s be realistic, here.

  3. Looks alot like a Saturn Astra , which you can buy right now!

    Lou

  4. At last, the same car the Europeans will get! It is ABOUT TIME, that’s all I’m gonna say!

  5. Besides the return of the hatchback, another body-style I’d like to see back is the fastback or semi-fastback/simili-fastback (notchbacks who have some fastback stylings hint, mainly the 2-door coupes like the 1967 Impala coupe who had a roofline who was a sort of semi-fastback/simili-fastback design,

    Then I remember in the 1970s-80s Toyota once called their Corolla hatchbacks “liftbacks” and there also the term “kammback”). However, sometimes there some confusion between hatchback, liftback, fastback and kammback.

    I would also wish for the returns of the hardtop coupe and hardtop sedans but with the more and more stricter safety standards… 🙁 on a more realistic side, I wish for the return of the station-wagon known in England as “estate” or in France as “break” or in French Canada as “familiale”

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