California Autos Examiner

Monday, June 08, 2009

1 Million miles in a 2011 Ford Fiesta (Part II)

One of the Fiesta Movement cars (European model)

This is part two of my interview with the Ford Fiesta’s brand manager, Sam De La Garza. You can catch part one of my interview by clicking here.

Ford expects its Fiesta Movement agents to log over 1,000,000 miles before the program concludes. That kind of mileage will get the Fiesta in front of a lot of potential customers and also allow Ford to capture a lot of feedback from its agents. Ford intentionally designed the program run a bit longer, six months instead of one or two, so that the agents would get past the honeymoon phase of new car ownership. What doesn't bother you during the first month or two of owning a car might drive you nearly insane a few months later. Combining the Fiesta Movement's agent feedback with data harvested from its 100,000 test drive program, Ford will better understand what its customers are looking for.

When the Ford Fiesta debuts next summer as a 2011 model, it will be offered in both sedan and five door hatchback models. A three door is a very remote possibility as Ford doesn't think there is enough demand. Normally, one would expect a sedan to pull in the lion's share of sales (70 to 80 percent) but De La Garza says that Ford is expecting the model mix of sedan/hatch to be almost 50/50. Ford thinks this will occur because customers will appreciate the utility of the hatch and let's face it, the hatch is a looker! All Fiesta's will sport around town with a 1.6L engine, but how about transmissions? Certainly there will be a manual, but more enticing is the prospect that the Fiesta will feature the recently announced dual-clutch PowerShift six-speed transmission with fuel saving dry clutch technology. It should be noted that Mr. De La Garza did not confirm the Fiesta will be PowerShift equipped, but he certainly didn't deny it and said that there would be an exciting announcement closer to the launch date of the Fiesta. You can do your own math on this one, but certainly this transmission would help Ford to achieve a class leading highway 40MPG (a stated goal of the program) and offer something unique in the segment. Stay tuned!

De La Garza said that no hybrid or diesel models are currently planned for the United States as Ford is focusing on EcoBoost. Could the Fiesta get the EcoBoost as a performance option? De La Garza wouldn't commit to this, but if you go to the 2011 Fiesta website, Ford asks buyers if they'd be interested in a turbo kit. With regards to a performance model, De La Garza did state that Ford is bringing over a couple of Fiestas to take on Pike's Peak International Hill Climb and that this could foreshadow Ford's performance intentions. Wink's as good as a nudge, if you catch my drift.

Ford will not be ripping out the Euro model's interior and replacing it with something much cheaper. De La Garza said that Ford wouldn't bait and switch customers, showing them one thing with the Fiesta Movement and then trying to sell them something drastically different. Instead, look for subtle changes to things like armrests and cup holders. SYNC will most definitely be available and Ford is also considering offering class unique items such as moonroofs and leather interiors. By featuring higher content, Ford can command a wider price range for its Fiesta and also meet consumer's demand for such luxuries. Pricing should fall into the $13,000 to $18,000 range with an average of $15,000. Of course, those numbers are not hard and fast, but if you look at the price range of the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit, the Fiesta will play in the same space.

For more info: Check out the 2011 Fiesta website. Read my interview with a Fiesta Movement agent. Visit the Fiesta Movement website.

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