Monday, May 7, 2018

Is the Fiesta Active Launch in Europe Another Puzzle Piece to Clarify Ford's Future Vision for Passenger Cars?

Ford Fiesta Active crossover
Photo: Ford media website.
Last month, Ford Motor Company announced the discontinuation of all passenger cars in the U.S. market except for the Mustang and Focus, with only the Focus Active—more of a crossover than a car—to remain.

But in Europe, where passenger cars remain more popular than they are in the U.S., it's a different story. And one part of that story is that the Ford Fiesta, one of the models discontinued (for now, at least, since car models have a way of eventually making a comeback), lives on.

This morning, Ford announced the debut of the Fiesta Active, a subcompact crossover that Ford is positioning to the European market as "the first in a new family of Active crossover models inspired by sports utility vehicles (SUVs) that combine rugged styling and enhanced versatility with true Ford fun-to-drive dynamics and sophisticated comfort and driver assistance technologies."

SUV-inspired exterior features include additional cladding, unique 17-inch alloy wheel designs, and roof rails to help carry bicycles or sports equipment—supporting active lifestyles. The interior features sports seats with exclusive materials and designs, standard SYNC 3 voice-activated connectivity and entertainment system, and available B&O PLAY premium audio for ultimate sound quality.

The Fiesta Active driving experience is enhanced with Drive Mode technology that enables drivers to choose between Normal, Eco and Slippery modes to match driving characteristics to the environment with the press of a button. Sophisticated powertrain options include Ford’s multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine offering up to 140 PS, and 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine offering up to 120 PS.

“Car-buyers love the versatility, bold styling and confidence-inspiring abilities of SUVs—and demand has never been higher—which is why we’ve fused these qualities with our all-new Fiesta’s class-leading driving experience and advanced driving technologies to deliver a Fiesta Active crossover that seamlessly fits with our customers’ active lifestyles,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service. Ford of Europe.

In Europe, Ford SUV sales were up 24 per cent in 2017—approaching 1 in 5 of every new Ford vehicle sold in Europe—driven by best-ever sales years for the compact EcoSport, mid-size Kuga and large Edge. The all-new Fiesta Active will be joined by the new KA+ Active value small car and all-new Focus Active five-door and wagon models on sale later this year.

In the controversy that followed the discontinuation of all but two passenger car models, Ford's reaction was to say, basically, that they will still be making plenty of cars; they will just be cars that reflect a re-thinking of what a car is, integrating the popular features of crossovers like larger wheel size, all-wheel-drive options, and increased ride height.

With the combination of Ford's plan to continue production of the Focus Active as one of their three remaining car models, and now this launch of the Fiesta Active for Europe, perhaps we now have a couple of more tangible clues, for better or worse, of what this vision of Ford's for the future of the car will look like for the near term.

But as we've said here before, don't write off the car yet. Japanese and European manufacturers are still selling plenty of passenger cars in the U.S. And a future impetus for the Big Three to start a renewed emphasis on passenger cars would simply be a matter of demographics. It has happened before and it will happen again.

No comments:

Post a Comment