Friday, July 21, 2006

2008 Ford Ka

Pictured below is a computer illustration of the next Ford Ka. This interpretation is particularly good-looking. So much that it looks too good to be true!… This design suits very well the consumer tastes in this class of vehicles: small and funny, but personalized. The 2008 Ford Ka will make use of a platform sharing agreement between Ford and Fiat that will see this car and the Fiat 500 share most of the underpinnings. Most of the engines are Fiat-sourced benefiting from a rather good expertise of the Italian house in small engines. But it is rumored that the two companies are developing a 900cc 3-cylinder engine for the base version. To be confirmed!

This seems like a good cooperation for Ford Europe that already has an excellent partnership with another European company (PSA) for diesel engines. Maybe this kind of partnerships is preferable to big merge operations and alliances…

The new Ka will arrive a bit late in a market that is witnessing a revival of very small cars. A few years ago VW was thinking of not replacing the Lupo. Renault was allowing the Twingo a slow death after many years without significant restylings. Suddenly all changes: VW ships the Fox from Brazil, Renault changes the Twingo project for very low costs and creates the Dacia brand, PSA and Toyota team-up for the infamous triplets (Aygo, C1, 107), Fiat goes retro-cheap with the next 500 and Ford joins it for the Ka replacement. Why oh why this small car revival?

The answer is: Chinese cars. Not now, but in a close future. Chinese manufacturers will arrive in Europe with their big SUV’s at VW Golf prices, big saloons at Citroen C4 prices, hatchbacks at Renault Clio prices… and they will fail miserably. Because this is Europe, it doesn’t work that way! However, they will also bring smaller cars at really small prices. And this is the segment where they can have success. The low-cost cars, for cities and short-distance trips, in the context of higher oil prices and congested traffic. But the European manufacturers (and Toyota and Ford) are wisely preparing a “friendly” reception party for the Chinese manufacturers, hence this revival of very small and cheap cars.

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