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Old 10-26-2009, 08:54 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Ford's Small Car Problem

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Last month we showed you Ford's new Focus-based C-Max, a mini-minivan in the mold of the Mazda5, which is coming to the U.S. Ford won't be the only automaker tackling this segment in North America. Chevrolet, which like Ford has stopped trying to compete with Chrysler's minivans, will introduce the 2012 Orlando in '11.Good for the 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, right?


Hold on. The potential setback to One Ford, the plan to sell a globally aligned product range around the world, is small cars sell for more money in Europe than they do here. Even if the C-Max stickers for $18,000 to $22,000, roughly the Mazda5's range, it will be competing with discounted, commoditized V-6 Chrysler minivans.

Mazda sells no more than 15,000 of its four-cylinder minivans here in a good year, with no marketing or advertising to speak of. If the C-Max can somehow double that volume, Ford will eventually have to build the MPV in North America to make it pencil out economically.

This is also a problem for the B-segment Fiesta and next-generation, globalized C-segment Focus here, as well. In Western Europe, the Focus is a $25,000-$28,000 car including taxes. The current Focus automatic is rated 24/34 mpg, versus 22/31 mpg for a four-cylinder automatic Fusion, which stickers in the $20,000 to $25,000 neighborhood.

Americans don't want small cars; they want fuel-efficient cars. So the 2011 Focus will have to sell for less than $20,000 and/or will need a substantial fuel economy improvement from its 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and twin-clutch automated manual to be as popular here as a midsize car like the Fusion.

And the next-gen Focus' fuel-economy advantage will only last until the next-generation Fusion gets the 1.6 EcoBoost, which it will need to compete with a 1.4-liter Ecotec 2013 Chevy Malibu. Ford is obsessed with its European-size cars. Whether it can get Americans to become obsessed with them remains to be seen
http://www.motortrend.com/auto_news/...ans/index.html
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:59 AM   #2
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He does make a good point. I never thought about it, but Europeans really have the small cars not just for their MPG, but also due to their narrower streets and roadways. However, we have giant gaping lanes. Hmmm...
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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I remember reading something, maybe even on NASIOC about American buyers not being all that happy with their new small car gas sippers and looking for more room and power from their next car purchase.

If you are a city dweller a small car is a good idea. If you like handling and performance a small and light car is a good idea. If you just need to commute 40 miles a day on the highway a small car does nothing except give you more MPG.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:43 AM   #4
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Well, first of all everyone should know by now that costs don't translate like that. Second, I can't believe he included tax in those figures, then compared it to a US Fusion without tax. The taxes they pay on cars in Europe are way more than we do. Is this guy forgetting that we already have a focus over here? It isn't going to change in price that much. What a fool.

edit: this was so ridiculous I actually had to make an account over there and post up.

Last edited by Tim-H; 10-26-2009 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:14 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
I remember reading something, maybe even on NASIOC about American buyers not being all that happy with their new small car gas sippers and looking for more room and power from their next car purchase.

If you are a city dweller a small car is a good idea. If you like handling and performance a small and light car is a good idea. If you just need to commute 40 miles a day on the highway a small car does nothing except give you more MPG.
Thus reinforcing why average Americans are stupid, because they still just think bigger is better.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:14 AM   #6
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Who here is getting sick of being told what we like.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:22 AM   #7
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Thus reinforcing why average Americans are stupid, because they still just think bigger is better.
Given fuel economy stays the same, wouldn't you like more room in your commuter?

That is the 'just' of the article...Americans don't 'need' small cars for the sake of small-ness like they do in Europe...We have more room, larger roads, etc.

A sub-compact car with good mileage might be a hard sell over a larger car with only a tiny sacrifice in mileage (if any), especially when price comes into factor.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:24 AM   #8
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I want my cars to be nimbe and enjoyable to drive. ie: small and light.
I don't care if it gets worse mpg than the Fusion, I want a Focus ST (or better yet, RS).
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:31 AM   #9
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I want my cars to be nimbe and enjoyable to drive. ie: small and light.
I don't care if it gets worse mpg than the Fusion, I want a Focus ST (or better yet, RS).
I would take an M5 over an M3...your sentiment isn't universal.
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hites View Post
He does make a good point. I never thought about it, but Europeans really have the small cars not just for their MPG, but also due to their narrower streets and roadways. However, we have giant gaping lanes. Hmmm...
Quote:
Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
I remember reading something, maybe even on NASIOC about American buyers not being all that happy with their new small car gas sippers and looking for more room and power from their next car purchase.

If you are a city dweller a small car is a good idea. If you like handling and performance a small and light car is a good idea. If you just need to commute 40 miles a day on the highway a small car does nothing except give you more MPG.
How is the Focus "small" in any way, size or shape?
It fits 2 people just fine, fits 3 people just fine and fits 4 people just fine.

I bet you that most people rarely have more than 2 people in their car, including them.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:34 PM   #11
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Given fuel economy stays the same, wouldn't you like more room in your commuter?
I've been wanting a Miata and refuse to get a newer Impreza (I have a '97 coupe). I may not be the best person to ask that question. lol
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:35 PM   #12
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I would take an M5 over an M3...your sentiment isn't universal.
And I'd take a early years M6 over both.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:36 PM   #13
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How is the Focus "small" in any way, size or shape?
It fits 2 people just fine, fits 3 people just fine and fits 4 people just fine.

I bet you that most people rarely have more than 2 people in their car, including them.
When I was referring to small cars, I had the Toyota iQ, Fiat 500, and Smart in mind.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Crawdads View Post
Given fuel economy stays the same, wouldn't you like more room in your commuter?

That is the 'just' of the article...Americans don't 'need' small cars for the sake of small-ness like they do in Europe...We have more room, larger roads, etc.

A sub-compact car with good mileage might be a hard sell over a larger car with only a tiny sacrifice in mileage (if any), especially when price comes into factor.
Yup, Focus is already being built in Michigan and the new Euro based one will most likely be built in the same plant.

Fiesta will be built in Mexico

And even thought Fusion and Focus might have the same motor, that doesn't mean that they will have the same fuel economy, just like the Impreza 2.5i having better fuel economy than the Forester with the same engine.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:27 PM   #15
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Who here is getting sick of being told what we like.
I'm sick of being told we all like SUVs.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Hites View Post
When I was referring to small cars, I had the Toyota iQ, Fiat 500, and Smart in mind.
Ah, fair enough then
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:35 PM   #17
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I hate to be captain obvious here, but many of our states have a large variation in size, geography, and population density compared to Europe--especially Western Europe. Heck, the state of Texas is much larger than the entire country of France. Believe it or not, but in the state I live in, only 25% of the roads are even paved and we have large areas with no power or telephones lines. So what I need out of vehicle likely differs greatly from someone living in a congested urban area--"hard to park" doesn't even cross my mind when shopping for a car... I even had to do a creek crossing once in my wife's old Integra... .
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:12 AM   #18
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Okay, I've lived in big cities my whole life, and 'easy to park' doesn't cross my mind any more than curb feelers do.

And while you can debate size relativity, I'm not sure how you could take issue with someone calling the focus small. Bigger than a Smart doesn't make a car 'not small'. My long legs mean that it's hard for a car the size of a focus to have seats in the position for me to be comfortable in front or rear seating.

I wouldn't say a focus seats 4 people 'just fine' for anything more than running to lunch with your co-workers.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:45 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Crawdads View Post
I would take an M5 over an M3...your sentiment isn't universal.
and you have the option to pick between the two.
This article is trying to say Ford shouldn't give us both options.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:22 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
Well, first of all everyone should know by now that costs don't translate like that. Second, I can't believe he included tax in those figures, then compared it to a US Fusion without tax. The taxes they pay on cars in Europe are way more than we do. Is this guy forgetting that we already have a focus over here? It isn't going to change in price that much. What a fool.

edit: this was so ridiculous I actually had to make an account over there and post up.
Because motortrend is a 'merican V8 magazine with a penchant for painting anything less with a broad brush in a negative light.

--KC
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:24 AM   #21
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I hate to be captain obvious here, but many of our states have a large variation in size, geography, and population density compared to Europe--especially Western Europe. Heck, the state of Texas is much larger than the entire country of France. Believe it or not, but in the state I live in, only 25% of the roads are even paved and we have large areas with no power or telephones lines. So what I need out of vehicle likely differs greatly from someone living in a congested urban area--"hard to park" doesn't even cross my mind when shopping for a car... I even had to do a creek crossing once in my wife's old Integra... .
And most European countries too.... most of the non-main (town-to-town) roads are unpaved. Finland I think also boasts a 25% pave rate. Those cars get around just fine on 1.4L diesel that gets 68 mpg on dirt roads. You don't need a truck/suv/awd to get over dirt roads. You need good tires... and lighter weight also helps in that regard.

--kC
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:56 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
Well, first of all everyone should know by now that costs don't translate like that. Second, I can't believe he included tax in those figures, then compared it to a US Fusion without tax. The taxes they pay on cars in Europe are way more than we do. Is this guy forgetting that we already have a focus over here? It isn't going to change in price that much. What a fool.

edit: this was so ridiculous I actually had to make an account over there and post up.
The point of the article is to point out Ford's production dilemma. The small cars Ford currently produces in Europe would not sell here for a profit if produced in Europe. If they intend to sell it here, they must figure out a way to build it profitably in the region, a challenge when you're looking at smaller volume cars like the C Max. Also, the reason for including taxes is many countries in Europe have a VAT or a production tax that taxes every product made regardless of where it is sold. Hence, any cars produced in one of these countries will be taxed, even if sold in the US.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:36 PM   #23
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We've digressed from the article but it still remains that the average american consumer wants at least a Fusion size car. Just because you fit in a Fit doesn't mean you wouldn't mind more room or some extra amenities.

The only reason for the spurt of small cars is the rapid ramp up of oil prices. If the Civic/Accord got similar mileage to a Fit and didn't cost all that much more then Honda would never sell a Fit. At least not here.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:31 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
If the Civic/Accord got similar mileage to a Fit
The Civic does, and the measurements someone posted a while back showed that the Fit interior is basically the same size as the Civic.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:39 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by robertrinaustin View Post
The point of the article is to point out Ford's production dilemma. The small cars Ford currently produces in Europe would not sell here for a profit if produced in Europe. If they intend to sell it here, they must figure out a way to build it profitably in the region, a challenge when you're looking at smaller volume cars like the C Max. Also, the reason for including taxes is many countries in Europe have a VAT or a production tax that taxes every product made regardless of where it is sold. Hence, any cars produced in one of these countries will be taxed, even if sold in the US.
Yes, my main gripe was with the comments about the Focus though. The current assembly plant in the US for the Focus will be retooled to produce the new one.
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