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Ford Oz still waiting for Fiesta sedan

Getting the boot: Ford's Fiesta sedan - seen here in American form - is now due in Australia later this year.

New sedan version of Ford’s popular Fiesta is still six months away from Australia

Ford logo28 May 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

IT HAS been on sale in China for more than a year and is about to become the first small Ford sedan released in North America for decades, but Ford Australia is still at least six months away from launching the new Fiesta sedan in Australia.

Revealed at China’s Guangzhou Auto Show in November 2008, the four-door version of Ford’s newest global light-sized hatchback is in the process of receiving Australian Design Rule certification, but dealer sources have indicated to GoAuto that the Fiesta sedan is up to eight months away from local showrooms.

Ford Australia confirmed at the local launch of the latest WS Fiesta hatch in December 2008 that its first Fiesta sedan would be part of its range before mid-2010, after Fiesta production for Australia switched from Germany to Thailand by early this year.

However, we understand Thai production of the Fiesta sedan, which will be built for Australia at the same joint-venture Changan Ford Mazda plant in Thailand that now produces our facelifted Mazda2 hatch and sedan, has been delayed to co-incide with a worldwide midlife makeover for the Fiesta later this year.

“Our Fiesta will be sourced from Thailand this year,” is all that Ford Australia spokesman Justin Lacy would say on the matter today.

Ford Australia’s move to source its smallest model from the southeast Asian nation, which has a free-trade agreement with Australia, will echo that of Mazda Australia, which last month introduced its first Thai-built Mazda2 range.

As well as comprising Australia’s first Mazda2 sedan, the Thai-built Two brings keener pricing and standard equipment levels across the line-up, compared with Australia’s previous Japan-built Mazda2.

27 center imageFrom top: China's Fiesta sedan, Ford Fiesta EcoNetic and Mazda2.

Despite serious supply shortages from the German factory that supplies our Fiesta hatch, Australian sales of Ford’s pint-sized hatch are more than 35 per cent up so far in 2010, with 3861 sales accounting 8.7 per cent of all light-car sales.

Yet the Fiesta remains only the nation’s sixth best selling light-car, behind Hyundai’s top-selling Getz (which has attracted 7672 sales to April this year, representing a 17.3 per cent share of the segment), Toyota’s once-dominant Yaris (7378, 16.7%), Holden’s Barina (4798, 10.8%), Mazda2 (4421, 10.0%) and Suzuki’s Swift (4177, 9.4%).

Priced at $16,290, the Barina 1.6 sedan is Australia’s most popular four-door light-car, but Mazda hopes its new Mazda2 Maxx sedan – priced at $19,090 and also available in just one specification with two transmissions – will make significant inroads to Holden’s share by accounting for 20 per cent of the 1100 total Mazda2 sales it has forecast each month.

The only other light-sized four-door models available in Australia are Proton’s new Malaysian-made S16 1.3 and 1.6 (from $11,990), Kia’s Korean-made Rio 1.6 (from $16,840), Honda’s Jazz-based/Thai-built City 1.5 (from $19,490) and the Yaris 1.5 YRX (from $21,090).

While sedans traditionally have accounted for up to half of all small cars sold in Australia, the Fiesta sedan will be a pivotal model in predominantly sedan markets such as China and the US – the world’s two largest car-buying countries.

Although both sedan and hatch versions of the Fiesta will be released in North America by August, it is the four-door body style that is expected to attract the lion’s share of sales for the Ford Motor Company.

Fiesta production for the US – which has not seen a B-segment Ford since the original (1976-1989) Fiesta was sold briefly in North America between 1978 and 1980 – will be manufactured in Mexico.

Thai production of the Fiesta for Australia is expected to result in increased supplies of both the three and five-door Fiesta hatchback and Australia’s first Fiesta sedan, as well as vastly improved value for money for customers in the form of lower prices and/or increased standard equipment.

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