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Mazda2 platform to be shared with US Ford B-Car


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Sharing Ford's B
New small cars will ride on Mazda2 Platform
By AMY WILSON | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Updated: 03/12/07, 2:29 pm et
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GENEVA - In one of his first big product decisions at Ford Motor Co., CEO Alan Mulally is merging far-flung B-car development teams into one global program team.

Teams in Europe, North America and Asia were consolidated into one team based at Ford of Europe in January, said Joe Bakaj, Ford of Europe vice president of product development. Mulally made the call, he said.

B-cars are smaller than the Ford Focus. The segment, with such new entries as the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit, is growing in the United States. Ford lacks a U.S. entry.

Ford already had decided to share one B-car for Europe, North America and Asia. Now, having one team will eliminate cost and reduce the number of engineers, Bakaj said. It also will minimize changes as the car is modified for each region.

"The danger there is if you don't coordinate that centrally, you end up after a while with three vehicles that are nominally the same vehicle but don't actually share many of the key parts or technologies," Bakaj said. "We've seen that happen way back in Ford's past. Engineers always like to think they can make something better by changing it."

New Ford-brand B-cars will ride on the same platform developed by Mazda that underpins the Mazda2 unveiled at the Geneva auto show. They will go on sale in Europe, North America and Asia from 2008 to 2010, Bakaj said.

The European car will come first, Bakaj said. He wouldn't specify when the B-car would go on sale in the United States or Asia. Suppliers and analysts most recently have expected Ford's U.S. B-car to go on sale in 2009.

The global B-car team will operate in Germany under Marin Burela, a Ford of Europe veteran. Team members are working on modifications for individual markets.

In addition to satisfying regulatory requirements, they will tweak vehicle tuning and design to satisfy local tastes.

"Americans prefer a less aggressive grille than Ford has on its cars in Europe. They want a basic entry-level car," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's executive design director. "Europeans want a stylish car. Chinese buyers want a vehicle that looks sophisticated - for example, with chrome fittings."

The B-car development team soon will start choosing suppliers for the Asian and North American versions, Bakaj said.

Suppliers already have been chosen for the European car.
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"Americans prefer a less aggressive grille than Ford has on its cars in Europe. They want a basic entry-level car," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's executive design director. "Europeans want a stylish car. Chinese buyers want a vehicle that looks sophisticated - for example, with chrome fittings."

Since when do we prefer less aggressive grills and since when do we not like stylish cars and when the Chinese become more "sophisticated" than us?

Hey Ford, I dunno if you've looked at the car market lately, but everything from Dodge to Audi to VeeDub has an "aggressive grill" and cars that lack sophistication (like the Echo) don't sell. You guys are morons!

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Since when do we prefer less aggressive grills and since when do we not like stylish cars and when the Chinese become more "sophisticated" than us?

Hey Ford, I dunno if you've looked at the car market lately, but everything from Dodge to Audi to VeeDub has an "aggressive grill" and cars that lack sophistication (like the Echo) don't sell. You guys are morons!

yeah, i totally agree.

Engineers always like to think they can make something better by changing it."

I always loved that one, as an architect.

I still don't get why a B segment car is needed in America for ford. First off, the current Focus has been amortized and is about the practical size of a Versa anyways. Trust me, I sat in the Versa at the auto show last weekend. The thing is HUGE! I WOULD OWN ONE IF I NEEDED A SMALL CAR. The problem with the Focus is the powertrain is not stingy enough. make the Focus with a 1.6 or 1.8 litre that gets 40mpg and you're fine. Or, how bouts a Foucs diesel that will crack 50 mpg? NO ONE WANTS to drive a cheap b segment box. The only reason people buy them is they are cheap. No one wants an Accent or something.

in any case world consolidation for ford makes sense. Mullaly is kicking ass.

By the way, the Fit sucks. The SX4 and Versa are WAY more appealing. The Aveo is nicer. The aveo tan leatherette interior is awesome.

Edited by regfootball
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"Americans prefer a less aggressive grille than Ford has on its cars in Europe. They want a basic entry-level car," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's executive design director. "Europeans want a stylish car. Chinese buyers want a vehicle that looks sophisticated - for example, with chrome fittings."

This is the same flawed logic that has plagued the domestics for years...

We do not want a DUMBED DOWN version of the European car. Saturn learned this the hard way with the L-Series, Ford learned it the hard way with the Focus (Which, eventhough it was bold and stylish enough to sale, still suffered the 'cheapening' it received through quality problems)

The key to success in small cars for domestic manufacturers is BOLD styling, with performance (And by that I mean everything, not street cred) that BESTS the asian competition.

Prime example: Scion is selling because of the bold designs of the division and the innovative, class leading personalization aspect. The Fit is selling well because it is a "premium" B Segment car, not a "Basic entry level car" The same goes for GM and the Aveo. Sure, the Aveo has a nice interior and it will sell, but not like it should and not really on the merits that it should.

Ask any trendy entry level buyer (Which is who these cars are targeting after all) which car is better, the Fit or the Aveo and they'll say the Fit simply because it is 'cooler'

I think the Yaris suffers the same affliction, but is selling on the Toyota name, (Not to many college students or trendies though) for the time being anyway. The difference is; Toyota has Scion to pick up what market the Yaris cannot.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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