According to Ford Motor Company’s president of the Americas, Mark Fields, the small-car segment represents the future of the U.S. auto industry. To meet the increased demand for smaller vehicles, Ford will launch its redesigned Focus in the U.S. market next year.
Fields says, “Small cars, B- and C-sized cars, are the single largest opportunity for growth at Ford.”
From last January through October, small cars including the Ford Focus, Toyota Yaris and Chevy Cobalt accounted for 26.9% of worldwide auto sales. According to the Automotive News Data Center, that represents a 26.7 increase in sales year-to-year. In the U.S., small car sales during the period rose by 14.8% for an increase of 14.3% year-to-year.
Fields says that small car buyers are not basing their buying decisions solely on economic considerations. He says that 65% of small car buyers have combined household incomes of about $50,000 or more and that about 25% have household incomes of at least $100,000.
He also says that heightened awareness of environmental concerns, fuel economy and traffic density in urban areas has resulted in the increase in sales of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The newly designed Fiesta, which is slightly smaller than Ford’s Focus small-car, is being heralded for its quiet ride and an array of features. To reduce cabin noise, the Fiesta has been equipped with an acoustic laminate hood blanket, headliner and windshield. Ford has also outfitted it with heated front-seats and exterior mirrors, a remote ignition system and Ford’s exclusive Sync, voice activated navigation system.
The automaker plans to make four-door and five-door models of the front-wheel drive Fiesta available to U.S. consumers.
Earlier this year, Ford created quite a buzz with its social media focused “Fiesta Movement” campaign in which 100 U.S. residents were provided with European versions of the vehicle and asked to post online videos and photos centered on their driving experiences. Ford reports that the campaign resulted in over 5.5 million video views on YouTube.com and 675,000 photo views on Flickr.com.
According to Ford’s group vice president of global marketing, Jim Farley, the campaign achieved its goal. He says, “In its competitive segment, the name awareness for Fiesta is now over 60%. That is for a vehicle we have never sold here.” He also claims that awareness among consumers is “higher than the Nissan Cube, Kia Rio, Smart, even the Scion xB.”
The U.S. versions of the new Fiesta are projected to deliver a fuel-efficiency of 29 mpg city / 38 mpg highway with the manual transmission option. Equipped with the automatic transmission, highway mileage remains unchanged, but urban drivers will see an increase in their fuel-efficiency of 1 mpg. A fuel economy package will also be available which will deliver an increased highway efficiency of 40 mpg with no improvement in city driving fuel-economy.
The new Fiesta is set to go on sale in the U.S. next summer.