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Ford confirms Fiesta for Oz

Hatching plans: The Fiesta will return Ford to the light car segment. But not at bargain basement prices.

Ford's new generation mini car is heading here in 2004

Ford logo11 Dec 2002


FORD Australia will rejoin the mini car market when it launches the European-built Fiesta here in early 2004.

Company president Geoff Polites today confirmed the new generation Fiesta was on its way. The car was launched earlier this year in Europe.

Mr Polites had previously made it clear the Fiesta was his preferred choice to bring the company back into the "light" car segment in Australia, replacing the Korean-built Festiva that went off-sale in Australia in December 2000.

The Fiesta is the younger and newer relation of the Focus small car that went on-sale in Australia in September. Its addition means Ford will have the same sort of Euro-homogenity that Holden already has with its Opel-derived Barina mini and Astra small car.

Ford did not issue any model details for the Fiesta, but the car is available as both a three-door and five-door, and in engine variants choices in the right-hand drive UK market including 1.3, 1.4, and 1.6-litre petrol, and 1.4-litre diesel.

While the five-door is assured, it is known Ford Australia had been struggling to make a business case for the three-door, even considering continuing the sale of the Ka alongside the Fiesta five-door.

Earlier this year at the launch of the Focus, Mr Polites told GoAuto: "My preference is to have both (three-door and five-door Fiesta) if I can make sense of it." He forecast sales volume for Fiesta would be around 500 per month and expressed a desire to keep the model lineup simple.

"You've got to be a bit careful of how much complexity you put in the system for something that may be 500 or 600 units per month - so by the time you get to body styles, engines, transmissions and colours you can be getting too complex.

"A sensible scenario might be a 1.4 manual and 1.6 auto." Mr Polites also expressed interest in the ST150 hot hatch, but said it was not in the initial model plan.

The sales volumes Mr Polites nominates indicates strongly Fiesta will be priced more toward the premium end of the light car segment, rather than the $13,990 territory where the Festiva saw action. In 1999, Festiva averaged more than 1430 sales per month.

The Mazda2, which is built on the same platform as the Fiesta, has been introduced this month to Australia at a base price of $17,790.

At today's announcement Mr Polites said Fiesta was a key component of Ford's transformation in Australia, which also includes the recently launched BA Falcon and Focus and the forthcoming XR8 and FPV performance car range, BA Fairlane and E265 cross-over.

"Introducing Fiesta to Australia is proof of our commitment to the light-car segment in this country and our belief in its importance to our business," said Mr Polites. "It is one of the world's best small cars - as evidenced by its recent award of Germany's prestigious Golden Steering Wheel, scoring top marks overall for its steering, transmission, and design.

"The new Fiesta has been a huge success in Europe, with sales figures already exceeding expectations. Europe-wide availability alone is only now possible because the Cologne plant where it is built recently achieved a daily production record of 1610 units," he said.

"We have a program with Ford of Europe that enables them to meet our capacity and model breakdown requirements in early 2004.

"Fiesta's contemporary European styling and award-winning driving dynamics will appeal to customers in the light-car segment. We believe they'll find it's worth the wait," said Mr Polites.

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