Ford unveils new Fiesta lineup amid $1B European profit

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday unveiled its new lineup of Ford Fiestas that the automaker hopes will continue its European rebound, which has already led to a more than $1 billion profit in 2016.

The next-generation Ford Fiesta unveiled Tuesday has four trim levels, from left: the Active crossover, ST Line, Vignale and Titanium.

The eighth-generation subcompact is roomier than the current generation. Each of the four trims unveiled on Tuesday (Titanium, ST Line, Vignale and Active crossover) has different styling cues — most notably different grille and lower fascia configurations.

“Five years ago in this very building, we agreed to build the world’s most-successful small car and we’ve done it,” Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said during the automaker’s “Go Further” event in Cologne, Germany, where the car is produced for Europe.

Ford did not announce U.S.-specific details for the new Fiesta or production plans for the car. U.S. models are currently imported from Ford’s Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico.

“At this time we are only talking about the new Fiesta for Europe and Middle East Africa — and we’ll have more to say about other markets at a later date,” said Ford global product spokesman Craig von Essen in an email to The Detroit News.

For the 2017-model year, Ford domestically offers the Fiesta in S, SE, Titanium and ST hatchback. All aside from the ST are offered as sedans and hatchbacks.

Ford of Europe Vice President of Product Development Joe Bakaj said the ST Line is inspired by its high-performance vehicles “in an affordable and practical package,” followed by the “core model” Titanium and premium Vignale. The Fiesta Active, according to Bakaj, is the first car in the automaker’s new Active series, which takes styling cues from crossovers.

“The standard refinement and craftsmanship sets a whole new benchmark in the segment,” Bakaj said.

Ford also announced the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which is currently offered for the Fiesta in the U.S., will be the first three-cylinder engine to feature cylinder deactivation, which shuts down cylinders when they are not needed to save fuel.

Ford has sold nearly 18 million Fiestas globally since the first version was launched in 1976.

Ford Fiesta sales in the U.S. were down 26.6 percent through October, as consumer preference continues to shift toward larger, more-capable crossovers and SUVs. Autodata Corp. reports U.S. passenger car sales heading into the final months of the year were down 8.9 percent through October, including a 14.1 percent decline in Ford’s car sales.

Smart Mobility

Ford during the event discussed details of its “Smart Mobility strategy,” which aims to make Ford a leader in the so-called “mobility,” or transportation, market that Ford estimates to generate $5.4 trillion in revenue annually — more than $3 trillion more than the traditional automotive industry.

“Ford is no longer only an automaker,” Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said during the program, which was broadcast online. “We’re now expanding our entire business to be both an auto and a mobility company.”

Fields said Ford plans to begin testing self-driving vehicles — a key to future mobility many believe — in Europe starting in 2017. The Dearborn-based automaker already tests autonomous vehicles in the United States.

The automaker, Fields said, plans to continue growing in the mobility space through its own innovations as well as partnerships.

Ford early Tuesday said it had signed an agreement to create “the highest-powered charging network” in Europe with BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche.

The goal is the quick build-up of a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.

“This will make the dream of owning an electric vehicle easier and also more practical. So we are serious about electrified vehicles,” Fields said, adding the company’s plans to invest $4.5 billion in electrified solutions – including 13 new electric vehicles – by 2020.

The build-up is planned to start in 2017. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020, the companies plan to have thousands of high-powered charging points.

$1 billion profit

Farley said Ford has already made more than $1 billion in profit in Europe this year — nearly doubling the company’s original $600 million target.

“We beat that in six months,” Farley said. “We beat our expectations because of our people.”

Ford made $259 million in Europe in 2015, which helped drive the atomaker’s overall profit last year to $7.4 billion.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland