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Ford to Step Up Fiesta Production

Slammed by the collapse of the American truck market, Ford Motor Co. is looking ways to ramp up production of its new Fiesta minicar. The subcompact, launched to much acclaim in Europe earlier this year, is scheduled to arrive in the States in 2010. Significantly, Ford will halt production of its now-struggling F-Series pickup at a plant in Cuautitlan, Mexico, to make room for the American version of the Fiesta.

The eagerly awaited Fiesta will fulfill a vow by Ford to re-enter that end of the passenger car market, a segment currently dominated by such rivals as Toyota, with its Yaris, Honda, with the Fit, and Nissan, with the Versa. Of the Big Three, only General Motors has a real presence, relying on its South Korean subsidiary, Daewoo, to produce a minicar sold in the States as the Chevrolet Aveo. Chrysler, meanwhile, is developing plans of its own and will market products produced for it by both Nissan and the Chinese automaker, Chery.

Ford’s current entry-level offering is the Focus, which was fortunately redesigned for the 2008 model year. Sales of the compact sedan are expected to reach an adjusted rate of close to 350,000 once May sales numbers are released. Current sales levels are running about 40 percent above Focus volumes a year ago.

On the other hand, Ford has been watching demand for its long-popular F-Series full-size pickups collapse – along with sales of most of its other conventional truck models. The company has announced plans to sharply scale back pickup and SUV production for the rest of the year, among other things eliminating shifts at six plants around the country and extending the annual summer shutdown at several assembly plants.

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