Ford and Chevrolet once wrote off the United States subcompact car market to Japanese brands, but now they are playing dominating this segment. Ford and Chevrolet now account for nearly a fourth of all subcompact sales in the US. July 2013 sales results showed the Nissan Versa leading the entry-level subcompact cars with 9,007 units sold in the US.
At second and third were the Ford Fiesta and the Chevrolet Sonic, respectively. Trailing behind were the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris. On the other hand, the top-selling subcompact vehicle, the Kia Soul, competes on other segment with other sporty, non-entry crossovers like the Nissan Juke and Scion xB.
In response to the surge of the Ford and Chevrolet brands, Japanese carmakers plan to roll out a new generation of North America-built subcompact at lower prices. Fred Diaz, US sales and marketing head for Nissan Division, remarked that local carmakers are getting “really, really good” at building small vehicles.
Diaz noted that many years ago, domestic OEMs “couldn't imagine that Asian imports would be able to come in and be as strong as they were.” He remarked that Nissan would not want to make the same mistake and “turn a blind eye to the domestics." Observers like Tom Libby, head of North American forecasting for R. L. Polk & Co., view the surge of Ford and Chevrolet, a brand of General Motors, as astonishing.
He noted that seeing a GM brand outselling Toyota and Honda in a small-car segment is “a little startling." Libby remarked this situation is not something that has happened before. He was also surprised at the sales figure for the Toyota Yaris, which he described as “so low by comparison.” GM’s Chevrolet sold 50,960 Sonics in the first seven months of 2013, nearly four times the sales figure Toyota posted for the Yaris.
Ford’s latest iteration of the Fiesta is set to be unveiled at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. When officially launched into the market, the new Ford Fiesta should arrive as a small car that boasts of a more appealing appearance, a fuel economy rating of more than 40 mpg, and an array of special features and technologies.
Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas, remarked that customers seek expressive and fun cars that also offer best-in-class fuel economy. He added that by delivering the excitement that drivers are seeking, the new Fiesta would raise the bar higher for small cars in North America. Fields noted that their goal for the new Fiesta was to make a car that already leads its class – in terms of fuel efficiency and performance as well as connectivity and personality -- even better.
Ford’s goal of creating the most dramatic Fiesta so far starts with having the new small car beat its rivals in the field of fuel efficiency (mpg). This would be an easy feat for the new Fiesta, thanks to the fact that it could be powered by the carmaker’s groundbreaking 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine that already won accolades as the “Popular Mechanics 2012 Breakthrough Award” and “Engine Technology International's International Engine of the Year Award” in Europe. In fact, Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is expected to return over 40 mpg.