Friday, June 5, 2009

Ka, please. Thank you.

In 2010 Ford will introduce Americans to it's Fiesta, a fuel-efficient sub-compact that has already proved wildly popular in the European market. This year Ford launched the Fiesta Movement, a chance to show Americans what the Fiesta was all about, how the car drives, and what it's capable of. If you want to learn more about that, you can ask Fiesta Agent 48, who just so happens to be my, erm, "e-wife", Jane.

The introduction of the gas-saving Fiesta is a smart move from Ford who endeared themselves to many Americans this year when they refused the federal bailouts that were accepted by the now bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler. As of June, Ford is the only of the "big three" under it's own control as Chrysler is soon to be in the hands of Italian auto giant Fiat, and if you're an American, you own 60% of GM, like it or not, and most of us don't. As a result of this in recent months some Americans have pledged that their next car purchase will most certainly be a Ford and the Fiesta gives those with modest budgets but ambitions of owning a new car a chance to do just that. However, Ford should take this one step further and bring it's tiny Ka stateside in 2011 to compliment the Fiesta.

Even though fuel prices have dropped since this time last year, when they were more easily compared to gold and silver than other liquids, they're still more than twice as high as they were ten years ago and wages, well, aren't. Because of this people are trying everything possible to save a dime here, a penny there, and a quarter somewhere else. One of the easiest ways to do this is to either drive less, or drive a more fuel-efficient automobile, and this is where cars like the Fiesta and Ka, and even slightly larger Focus, come into play. The Fiesta averages nearly 47 MPG while the Ka manages a stunning 56, even out dueling Toyota's vaunted Prius (note: I'm not bashing the Prius, it's a wonderful car in it's own rite). Plus, it's adorable.

Given it's small size safety is an obvious concern about the Ka. During the 2008 model's test by Euro NCAP the Ka managed decent, though far from spectacular, figures. These will probably need to be improved if the car is brought to America due to the larger prevalance of freeways and SUV-type vehicles.

Thus far Ford has done a commendable job of switching away from the gas-guzzlers that were the vogue of the high-flying, free-wheeling 90's, and it's ability to do so is a large reason why it's in such good condition compared with it's main domestic rivals today. But there is no reason why Ford can't keep going and push the American industry into a new frontier with it's fuel-saving, affordable, small cars. There will always be a special place for the F-150 in America's heart, and rightly so as it helped built this country and will continue to do so for many years, but Ford, and the American auto industry's, futures lie with the Ka, Fiesta and Focus, and because of that, the future looks bright.