Recently we travelled to Albuquerque to see the Balloon Fiesta and Angela's daughter Julia. The fiesta was a bust due to wind but what should I spy on the way out at 6 in the morning but one of my favorite European cars! I managed to fumble a couple of shots from the cell phone.
This is the old model Ford Ka which held up admirably and unchanged over it's 12 year run in Europe. Ford never considered bringing them to the States; no buyers they said.
Which undoubtedly was true. It is rather small. It's only virtues may be that it is useful, fun to drive, pleasing to look at and gets about 45mpg. The point is that Ford and GM have been developing good cars for the 21st century in Europe but have always presented only token efforts in the United States. Nothing says "Buy a Toyota" like the stateside Ford Focus. Ford conceded every market segment but the SUV and Truck market to the Japanese long ago. That made them a lot of money for a long time. $4 a gallon gas cut the heart out of their US business model. Citizens of the US just don't think of Ford or GM as CARmakers.
Here's the new Ka, which is Fiat based and also a little small for most tastes; though I did see a new Smart car on my block this week and it seems much less useful, more expensive and gets the same gas mileage.
Here's the Smart. What do you think?
More promising is the new Ford Fiesta which is closer to what Americans might consider a real car. It gives up a little fuel economy for a lot more space and better quality interiors. The question is whether Ford can convince US buyer that it is serious about cars now; and sell them in enough numbers, fast enough, and against well known Japanese competitors, to stay in business.