By on September 9, 2012


Ford won’t be following in the footsteps of Renault and other auto makers that have introduced “low cost” brands like Dacia. But the company hasn’t ruled out a model line of cheaper vehicles either.

Speaking at Ford’s Amsterdam dealer meeting, CEO Alan Mulally told Automotive News that

“We are looking around the world at opportunities to offer a car priced below the Fiesta…We do not have a firm plan at the moment [for a global sub-B model], but clearly being competitive in every market segment is important,”

Model specifics or production sites were not discussed, but conventional wisdom dictates that cars like the A-segment Ford Ka aren’t suitable for a global low cost vehicle, since (relatively) larger cars are favored in other markets around the world. The Fiesta platform is a likely candidate for the future vehicle.

This wouldn’t be the first time Ford produced a vehicle for developing markets either; the Ford Ikon was previously sold in Mexico, China, South Africa and India, with underpinings derived from previous Fiestas.

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28 Comments on “Ford Rules Out Low-Cost Brand, Keeps Door Open For Cheap Cars...”

  • avatar

    How bout you simply make the Focus and Fusion cheaper?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    If Ford put out a cheap, underpowered, everything is optional but the heater car; the press and web blogs would howl with derision with snarks and cheap shots piling up. The dealers would hate the lack of profit on the new “el-cheapo”. It would need to be a hit with the it runs, it drives, I’m keeping it for 300k miles crowd. I can’t wait for the Corolla VS Versa VS “el cheapo” track review :P

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, Ford already has ‘S’ models that US buyers go ‘ewww’ and rarely buy. “I want this, this this and this on it!” Only see them in ads to ‘bait and switch’.

      And ‘cheaper’ to buyers means ‘my friends will make fun of me being so cheap’.

      • 0 avatar

        @chicagoland… true and those models do meet the needs of those who want “cheap” cars as long as dealers are willing to stock them. I’m my area those cars actually sell well because there is a sizeable population of economically disadvantaged people who STILL want to by new instead of used.

      • 0 avatar

        The “S” models are exclusively for Hertz and government fleets (pretty much). Each dealer gets one for retail, so they can advertise the loss leader.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        A few years ago a friend of mine bought a stripper model Hyundai Accent at an absolute steal as they were clearing out year end inventory. On a fiscal level I commend him for his prudence. But he pays for it with buckets of sweat every summer as it has no AC, and he can only open up the driver window on the road because they’re wind-up.

      • 0 avatar

        They aren’t very likely to market such a thing in the US where buyers are spoiled for features and size. A car below the Fiesta would definitely be targeted at emerging markets like India and China.

        While they sell quite a few, the Fiesta hasn’t seen a sales explosion in North America as it really represents the bottom end of what most buyers would consider to be an acceptable vehicle.

        I know from experience that putting 4 adults in a 4 door Fiesta for any amount of time is both a challenge to the car and the occupants.

    • 0 avatar

      Sad but true. Base model dodge dart with no air conditioning gets the same treatment.

    • 0 avatar

      Um–a new, ultracheap model would be sold ‘globally’ but certainly not in the US. So what difference does the US market & buying habits make?

  • avatar

    Amsterdam dealer meeting

    Such a thing? Can they sell cars there? I thought it was flat bicycle land..

    Mulally & co were probably in town for something to do with the color of the car above.

    On a more carbon note I can’t imagine Ford’s candidate. How are things with Mazda these days?

    Now Mr Mulally go and rent a Batavus or Gazelle and ride round Amsterdam’s cobbled streets. Let your backside inform you this is not how to build a cheap car.

  • avatar

    this sounds like a great idea but I’m not sure how this will work with “One Ford.”

    They basically need to make a Nissan Versa that wont cannibalize sales of the Focus, Fiesta, or Fusion…

    It could work, perhaps, if its design language was different and if it was either excluded from developed markets or included but differentiated from the rest of the line up.

    When I think of Ford, I think of it as a maker of competitive Euro-style vehicles and a few cool niche products (mustang). The econo-vehicle would have to deliver without compromising Ford’s reputation and without competing too much with the rest of the line up

    • 0 avatar

      When I think of Ford, I think of it as a maker of competitive Euro-style vehicles and a few cool niche products (mustang).

      Yup, except for the BOF truck lines that is Ford (currently) in a nutshell. Not a bad position for a U.S. automaker to be in.

  • avatar

    For years people complained that American car makers did not make small cars to compete with the Japanese and Europeans. Now, that they do, people complain that they are too expensive. Some people can’t be satisfied with anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Saturn Astra perfectly illustrates this.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it remains to be seen whether the American small cars can live up to expectations of small Japanese/German cars of old.

      Thus far of the two I have seen (Focus and Cruze) I’m thoroughly unimpressed (although Cruze gets a few points for a nice interior), Dart on the other hand intrigues me, although I have yet to see one up close.

      Fiesta and whatever the other Bowtied Daewoos are don’t even register on my radar. If these were all my budget could afford I would start hitting local papers and the internets for clean[er] pre-03 Saturn SLs.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly what I was thinking! So far no domestic brand car has even come close to any of the foreigners in either price, content or quality for the money.

        Biggest drawback for Ford and GM is the cost to produce their cars, unless they can make them all in Mexico, South Korea, China or India. And that may still happen. Neither can afford to make’m in the US or Canada and compete with any foreign brand.

        In this day and age of cheap commuter cars, aka disposable cars, the buyers look for bang for the buck as in content and value for the money.

        I think a very large number of buyers would actually be perfectly happy buying one of these ‘throw-away’ cars at a Big Box outlet, driving it for the commute until it quits, and then buy another one to replace it. They can always recycle their old commuter like they would a plastic bottle.

        Many are already doing that now. Keeping their commuter until the warranty expires and then trading it for a new one with a warranty. They could always keep’m running by putting money in them for repairs, but why would anyone do that?

      • 0 avatar

        “They could always keep’m running by putting money in them for repairs, but why would anyone do that?”

        Planned obsolescence in action.

        I’ll tell you what scares me a bit, ten years from now will you even able to buy a used car for cash (today’s 10-15K) and be able to get ten more years out of it with proper maint?

      • 0 avatar

        “ten years from now will you even able to buy a used car for cash (today’s 10-15K) and be able to get ten more years out of it with proper maint?”

        It’s been said before by many that you can keep any vehicle running as long as you replace the broken or worn out parts in them.

        So IMO the short answer is yes, you will still be able to buy a used car ten years from now, put a little M&R* in it, and drive it for as long as you want to, and want to for as long as you drive it.

        But that raises the question of economic feasibility in my mind, i.e. you buy a used car for $10K-$15K, put some more bucks with it to get it up to par, and then you have a vehicle you hope to drive a few more years that is actually worth less than the sum total of the parts in it. What’s your return?

        I’ve got a bud with a Japan-built ’89 Camry V6 that has required minimal TLC and maintenance, and the only reason he still has it is exactly because it is still running and requires virtually no expense.

        But he has told me that if it ever quits running for his grand daughter, ye olde Camry will be hauled to the dump or the recycler and my bud will buy another NEW commuter car for his grand daughter.

        He’s not going to put any money in it because the parts would be worth more than the sum total of the whole car.

        * Maintenance & Repair

  • avatar

    Historically the Ford was the cheap brand itself, á-lá model-T…

  • avatar

    This new cheap car will most likely be the new global Ka which will be released in 2014. It’s going to be primarily intended for emerging countries, but will also be sold in Europe, and will have a hatch and sedan version. However, it seems Ford is having difficulty in making a car for both Europe and third-world countries (particularly Brazil), so they may make an exception of the One Ford policy and make two different Kas again. Of course, they already made an exception for engines, since Brazil and Argentina won’t get the new Ecoboost engines at all, likely because the fuel there is of such poor quality that the state-of-the-art Ecoboost engine wouldn’t last for more than a week before it gets corroded.

    • 0 avatar

      In Argentina Ford offers the Mondeo Ecoboost, I think it’s a mather of costs rather than the quality of fuel, in smaller cars.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a matter of costs, not just of the engine but of the fuel needed for those engines. The Mondeo Ecoboost is sold in Argentina because the people who buy it are rich and can afford the expensive “Premium” or “Euro Diesel” fuels which don’t harm those cars. The people who buy a Fiesta though, tend to buy the cheap fuel that has more sulfur than fuel.

  • avatar

    They don’t make an exception, they simply send the tooling for the previous gen. Ka, fiesa, focus, etc. to the emerging markets were they have manufacturing (i.e. Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, etc. (not sure if Ford has manufacturing in all of the above countries). If they were to go for a low cost brand (don’t know if it’s for sale) buy AvtoVAZ and call it Ford AV (then replace Ford in the ovel with AV) but only for emerging markets.

  • avatar

    They’d have to buy Renaults 25% of AvtoVAZ first. Also AvtoVAZ has a joint venture with GM.

  • avatar

    “We are looking around the world at opportunities to offer a car priced below the Fiesta…We do not have a firm plan at the moment [for a global sub-B model], but clearly being competitive in every market segment is important,”

    One presumes that one of the opportunities being considered is the Figo hatch and Classic sedan already being built in India, based on the previous generation Fiesta?

  • avatar

    As the article mentions, this isn’t exactly new ground for Ford. Aside from the Ikon, a subcompact based on the 4th gen Fiesta, Ford does still build the Figo, a subcompact based on the 5th gen Fiesta. Both are/were bigger than the Ka and specifically designed to be sold cheaply in emerging markets. The Figo actually seems like a pretty decent car for the money, if about a decade out of date.

  • avatar

    I propose they call the entry level brand either “Mercury”!

  • avatar

    For a while now I’ve had a perverse desire to cross-shop a Ford Figo with the other subcompacts—it looks “young” and fresh-enough, and cleaner than the new Ford design language for that matter, and for $12 or $13k I think it’d pick off some used sales beneath the Fiesta. Of course, the dealers don’t want it cannibalizing used sales, and Ford doesn’t want it cannibalizing the Fiesta, which is why this kind of car is probably a non-starter from a marque with nothing to lose.

    From somebody like Mitsubishi or Suzuki though, desperate to build volume and with nothing to cannibalize, it seems like an emerging market subcompact or a refashioned kei car (like the US-market i with a tiny gas engine) would be a worthwhile gambit at this point.

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