Tuesday, January 31, 2006

World Car?

Henry Ford's dream of a "Universal Car" was realized for a time with the Model T. A car that sold globaly, and was built globally. But with the introduction of the Model A in 1928 something changed. European buyers were no longer flocking to Ford dealers, they were buying smaller Austin 7s and DMW Dixies. Ford needed to adjust to fit the market. Europeans wanted smaller more fuel efficient vehicles and despite Henry Ford's thiking a Ford Model A was not a "World Car." Governmental interferance and taxes actually resulted in the yearly tax on a Model A to be more than that of a Rolls Royce. So in 1932 Ford introduced a new car for Europe the Model Y. Smaller and with lower tax fees, it helped Ford survive in the new reality of the European car market. So Ford in the US and Ford Europe started to function as unique entities, both wholey owned by Ford, but with different missions. High fuel prices, smaller roads and lack of parking required that European Fords be smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient. Larger roads, longer distances, cheaper fuel and easier parking allowed US cars to grow and not stop. Today what we consider a "compact" car would actually be more akin to a midsize car in Europe.
It's amazing that you look at Fords in Europe and if you didn't see the blue oval badge, you wouldn't recognize it as a Ford. With few excpetions, European Fords haven't translated to the US market. I would guess that the Cortina was the first Euro Ford imported to the US in the 60's, and then the Capri in the 70's. And in the 80's Ford tried the "World Car" game again, with the Escort. The Escort had been a Euro model for about 15 years at the time, but it was not going to be imported this time, it would be built in the US, based on a European design. And unlike the Fiesta before it, it sold well. The US Escort was close but not exactly what the Euro version was, being larger and heavier, but it was a great start. The Escort was around for almost 20 years, before being replaced by the Focus, the Euro replacement for the Escort. Again built in North America, and altered to meet US Safety and Emisions standards.

With gas prices going up and down so drastically over the last year, talk has been that we need smaller more efficient vehicles. And word has been that Ford may again tap it's European model lineup. I look forward to this, but hope that some of these will be built here in the US.

Just a quick list of Fords that have been imported; Anglia, Cortina, Capri, Fiesta, XR4Ti (Sierra - UK) Scorpio (Granada - UK ) and just designs; Escort, Mondeo (Contour/Mystique) Focus.
I think it's correct that importing a design to be built locally has always allowed acceptance from US consumers, more than actually importing the vehicle.

What European Fords would you want to see here? SAV, Galaxy, Focus, Mondeo, Ka, Fiesta, Fusion, Transit ????? Does it matter to you where it's built?

1 comment:

ericgp said...

What Fords would I like to see here. Well, a lot of them actually, and I generally do not like Ford at all (in the US), even though I acquired my license in a Mustang.

Ford Ka - I would like to imagine a lot of people utilising these for single and dual occupant commutes as well as local runabouts. If not, the fiesta.

The Galaxy as an MPV would be fitting and a hell of a lot better (I would think given the popularity and sales figures in Europe) than the current MPV Ford is offering here. If I could only find enough storage space online to detail the issues several owners I know have had to endure.

Ford Focus ST - This would own the import tuner market quite frankly. Though I would love to see some older RWD 70's Escort RS1800's as well (that's just me though).

Ford Mondeo (most recent) - WITHOUT modifications to make it ridiculously oversized like they did with the last Mondeo (Contour/Mystique).

I really wish they would just import the car without changing it. Give us Diesels, keep the dimensions the same. People in Europe aren't any different in size (maybe except for Girth) than in America. We're not any taller as a whole. If you want tall, go to Nederland.

I'd also like to see the package vans utilised over here as well, I think they'd come in handle (especially the diesels).

Eric