We reached a conclusion to the first Ford Festiva (or Kia Pride, Mazda 121, SAIPA, etc.) in our last installment, which saw the little hatchback finalize its Ford duties in 1993 and its Kia responsibilities in 2000. And while it continues life today as a Wallyscar in Tunisia, our coverage here moves on to Ford’s not-so-anticipated follow-up entry to Festiva, another Festiva! It’s an Aspire to you.
We return to the Ford Festiva once again today, as the subcompact Mazda-designed hatchback stormed North American shores. It did so wearing a Ford badge and a South Korean VIN, courtesy of a Kia factory. But North America wasn’t the only place it landed.
As we learned last time, the Festiva was built in several different countries and assumed many identities over an extensive history. The Festiva still has not reached the end of its life, but we’ll cover that in a separate article. We pick up today in North America, circa 1987.
We return to our Rare Rides Icons coverage of the Ford Festiva today. An important world vehicle for the likes of Ford, Mazda, Kia (and eventually many others), the Festiva arrived at a time when rear-drive subcompacts were being replaced by much more efficient models that were front-drive. And the Mazda-designed Festiva was certainly more efficient and more front-drive than the Fiesta it replaced.
We embark on the important and global tale of a subcompact hatchback today. Your author referenced it last week in Part I of our Kia large cars series, and now it’s time for the promised comprehensive Rare Rides coverage! Manufactured in various places around the world, our subject vehicle lived a long life and had no fewer than 10 identities over its impressive 17-year span. We’re going to party, karamu, Festiva, forever.
Automakers Toyota and Stellantis separately announced plans to construct lithium-ion battery plants in North America on Monday. With regulatory pressures mounting, the industry has been shifting its eggs between baskets to avoid trouble. But the ultimate goal for most brands is to transition toward selling EVs, requiring meaningful action and financial expenditures on the part of manufacturers.
We’ve already seen General Motors and Ford Motor Co. squabbling over who will nestle the biggest battery facilities between America’s Frost and Sun Belts. It’s only fitting that the remnants of the Chrysler Corporation contained in Stellantis walk the path of electrification, especially now that it’s absolutely riddled with European influence. Meanwhile, Toyota is predictably exercising a bit of caution as it similarly navigates how to modernize itself via upcoming lithium-ion plants.
As predicted, supply issues are hampering the automotive industry’s relaunch. The good news is that practically everyone on the planet understood this would be a problem, but it’s undercut by the preliminary damage created by coronavirus lockdowns.
While automakers had sizable cash reserves with which to endure an economic shutdown, many suppliers did not. Small part suppliers have struggled with liquidity as larger equipment manufacturers try to figure out how to ramp up production and address their own supply headaches. As it turns out, shutting down an entire economic sector is a lot easier than restarting one after it’s been kneecapped.
North America’s love affair with SUVs and crossovers arose so suddenly and with such passion that manufacturers were left scrambling to meet demand. Luxury brands certainly aren’t exempt from this but, unlike mainstream marquis, the sudden shift in product demand has thrown those marques a bit of a curveball.
Since prestige brands tend to possess substantially higher leasing rates than their more-affordable contemporaries, luxury automakers are getting stuck with off-lease sedans that nobody seems to want. While that’s terrible news for corporate accountants, it’s good news for anyone looking for a good deal on a used Lexus ES or Audi A4.
Two new models are entering the [s]not[/s] hot wagon market in North America. While one wagon entry is aimed squarely at the near-luxury market, the other aims higher and challenges established luxury wagons.
Our question today is this: Will either of the models work?
Details have come to light regarding the return of Land Rover’s long-running Defender model to the North American market. This time around, things will be a little different. After a solid 67-year run (dating back to 1948 as the “Series” models), perhaps some changes were due.
And this time, North America gets to see the new Defender at the same time as the rest of the world.
Carlos Ghosn, the synergizing executive that Sergio Marchionne only wishes he could be, isn’t mincing words when it comes to Nissan’s plans for fledgling automaker Mitsubishi.
According to the Renault-Nissan top boss, the deal between Nissan and Mitsubishi is “massive.”
The long-anticipated Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, expected later this year, has once again been postponed for the U.S. and Canada.
This is at least the fifth time it’s been delayed in North America since its 2013 Japan-market launch. Mitsubishi’s U.S. market public relations manager, Alex Fedorak, confirmed the latest delay.
“Following a thorough evaluation process, we have determined that, in order to meet a level of competitiveness that will exceed customer expectations in the United States, the launch of the Outlander PHEV will be delayed until the summer of 2017,” said Fedorak.
Nissan announced Tuesday that it would move current U.S. chief Fred Diaz to focus on truck sales for North America and promote Nissan’s chief in Canada, Christian Meunier, to lead the group in North America.
“We are now poised to capitalize on the significant investments we have made in our trucks with the launch of the all-new Nissan Titan, and these changes will support our ability to do so,” Nissan North America chairman Jose Munoz said in a statement announcing the changes.
In his new role, Diaz will oversee truck sales — Titan and Frontier — for all of North America to help jumpstart that brand from a minor player to a more serious contender. He was previously head of Ram brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles before joining Nissan in 2013.
Chairman of Škoda Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland, who was tapped to lead a new North American Volkswagen region, will be leaving the Volkswagen Group, it was announced Wednesday.
Vahland will not be taking the N.A. role which would have given him the responsibility of overseeing the U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets.
“Differing views on the organisation of the new Group region have led to this decision,” Škoda said in a release on Wednesday, though the automaker was careful to point out that “this decision is expressly not related to current events on the issue of diesel engines.”
A replacement for Vahland in North America has not yet been announced.