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Discussion Starter #1
So everyone is going apes over the Fiesta (and Transit Connect), hailing its European styling and handling.
Because it's European, it's great. Or words to that account.

Then, why has and still do so many European cars fail in North America?

Think of the Merkur Scorpio (Ford Scorpio), Merkur XR4Ti (Ford Sierra), Ford Contour (Ford Mondeo), Pontiac Le Mans (Opel Kadett), Cadillac Catera (Opel Omega), Saturn Astra (Opel Astra), Buick Regal (Opel Insignia).

Can the mk1 Focus be considered an European car, or was it reworked for N.A.?

I just read a Regal review, and the closing statement was: "But neither you nor GM should be surprised if not too many others are lining up at the Buick dealer behind you."

Whould this also be the case if DEARBOOOOORNNN!!! hadn't changed 40% of the Fiesta?

So, what are your opinions on this?
 

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I don't remember the Merkur Scorpio but if it looked like the XR4Ti, they both failed, I'm sure, because they were weird/ugly cars. The XR4Ti had styling similar to cars produced by AMC.

The Ford Contour was a pretty good looking car but the only person I know who owned one hated it because it was not reliable. He had to replace his automatic tranny right after the car went out of warranty.

The LeMans had junky plastic stuck all over it thanks to Pontiac's styling department.

The Cadillac Caterer did not look like a Cadillac. It was a decent looking car (a bit dull) but sold under the wrong nameplate. People who buy Cadillacs want their car to look like a Cadillac.

I was excited about the Saturn Astra until it got here. I wanted an inexpensive hatchback with good fuel mileage. The Astra Hatch was only sold loaded at around $20k and the fuel mileage was poor.

It's too early to say anything about the Buick.
 

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I can't speak about the other cars that failed, but the Transit Connect and the Fiesta both represent a turning of the ship: Ford was one of the most SUV-addicted manufacturers in the US, letting the profit-rich SUVs choke and stagnate their other offerings. Look at what's happened to the Focus since 2001, compared to the Euro Focus.

The presence of all those Explorers on the highway created an arms race among commuters - you might not want to own one, but you DEFINITELY didn't want to get hit by one in your little sedan. I drive 50 miles a day on highways, and in my Alero I was constantly blocked by a wall of SUVs in those years. I remember when they started to lessen after hurricane Katrina and virtually vanished after the stock market declines of 2008 - it was like the clouds parted and I was seeing the world clearly for the first time since 1999! I can see FOR MILES! My palms aren't sweating!! Those lumbering beasts are all going extinct!

So Ford getting the message and giving us small cars and light trucks rather than only giving people interesting technology and cutting-edge performance in their SUV offerings is such a relief to me. It's basically underpinning all of my excitement about the Fiesta and the new Focus.

So that's my take. Chrysler offered the Dodge Caliber two years ago, but it began falling apart (especially the stuff inside the cabin, like aux power jacks and buttons and climate control) so quickly that I never even went to the lot to look at it. 3-month old cars were in the shop already. It was a classic example of "we'll dangle one cheap car in front of them, rather than change our whole thinking." Well, that guarantees that they won't innovate or keep it fresh, cool, and current.

GM might be trying to reform like Ford - redesigning aveo and introducing cruze could be something good. But I don't think they even have global experience standing behind a quality small car they can draw on. At least ford does that with the Euro Ka, Fiesta and Focus. So Ford is the most exciting of them all.
 

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Why Fiesta is succeeding so far where other Domestic-badged Euro cars (except Focus and I'll get to that) have failed?

1. 2.5 years of marketing. Ford has assaulted the US enthusiast community with information about Fiesta since early 2008. Dribbling out something significant every few months. I don't recall Saturn doing ANY marketing on the Astra.

2. Modified the car to be competitive in a popular segment. The Fiesta matches or exceeds the features found in cars that are already doing fairly well like Yaris and Fit. This is unlike Merkur where the cars were essentially unmodified and not really comparable to anything on the market. Its also unlike Contour/Mystique where they were modified but not in a way that was meaningful to buyers in the segment. Astra was unmodified but in a popular segment, apparently the lack of marketing negated that.

I think its too early to declare the Fiesta really successful though. Right know we've got a hot launch with a lot of people raising their hands and ordering or getting on waiting lists. But bear and mind that Smart, PT Cruiser, and New Beetle all got off to hot starts and look what happened to them.

It's worth noting here that there's a rumor that all the Fiestas on dealer lots now are actually reserved cars that got abandoned (someone heard that from a reservation consultant, it's on here somewhere). If that is the case that means there are hundreds of abandoned Fiestas around the country. This is a very, very bad sign if true.

Actually the MK1 Focus is the model Ford should try to emulate with Fiesta (except the quality issues). It actually had less modification Euro-to-US than Fiesta. It's pretty much always sold strongly, neither red-hot nor languishing on the lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmm... very insightful, Powershift!

And even if the Fiesta bombs with the public, at least the professional reviews are way more favorable than those of aforementioned cars!

On a side note: the Ford Sierra, Ford Mondeo, Opel Kadett and Astra all were huge sales successes all over Europe (which may be why Ford and GM tired to repeat their success Stateside).
 

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It's worth noting here that there's a rumor that all the Fiestas on dealer lots now are actually reserved cars that got abandoned (someone heard that from a reservation consultant, it's on here somewhere). If that is the case that means there are hundreds of abandoned Fiestas around the country. This is a very, very bad sign if true.
I saw that when it was posted, but now I don't think that's true anymore. I abandoned my reserved Fiesta and bought one off the lot, but the VIN Window Sticker I can generate on that inventory site still has my name on it. Plus, the car I bought was built 4 days after the car I "reserved" so it's not like this car once belonged to someone who ordered before me.

I think it's more like what FeistyFordFiesta was told. That the reserved cars were built early but then loads of other cars piled up in front of them in the lot and they are shipping last-in-first-out, meaning the earliest cars will arrive the latest.

So I hope it's too soon to say this is a bad sign. There is a chance, though, that Cruzes and Leafs and 2011 models of established B cars will be out on lots before some of the reserved cars come in, creating a temptation to just go get something else.
 

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Timing is everything

Merkur had poor marketing and they really didn't fit in with Mercury/Lincoln. The Contour was overpriced & smaller then the competitors (something people say about the Fiesta). The Astra was at a dying brand & the Catara was a first try at a smaller RWD car for Cadillac (it did much better on their second try with the CTS, it's replacement).

If gas prices stick at the level they are at for an extended period of time, the general public isn't going to flock to small cars like the Fiesta. If Ford post similar MPG figures for the new Focus, I'm bet more dealers will stock that over the Fiesta just for the better profit margin. I'm hoping that success is that Ford sells enough that they will bring in the next European version sooner. If they drag out the next version, like the current Focus, then I'll be worried.
 

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If gas prices stick at the level they are at for an extended period of time, the general public isn't going to flock to small cars like the Fiesta.
18 months ago the average price for gas was a dollar less than it is right now...

I'm never happy with $2.50+ gas... is it better than $4? yes, but it still makes me unhappy.

yes, i know everyone else pays way more
 

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18 months ago the average price for gas was a dollar less than it is right now...
But only 6 months before that they were paying $1+ more than what we pay now. I'm thinking the pain of almost $4 gas has disappeared from people's memory and the steady rise over the last 18 months isn't being noticed.
Historical Price Charts - Wisconsin Gas Prices
 

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Merkur was poorly marketed and not designed for NA climate on both the Scorpio and the XR4Ti. GM was its typical well its just a rebadged car which had all the features as other cars but well its just the badge is different. Big yawn on that matter, the Focus is European and a success where as the Contour was a rebadged and reverse engineered which ruined the quality of the car horribly. The car litteraly has nothing to do with its European Family where it came from, the car was nothing but awful. The MK I Focus despite its major reverse engineering and dumbing down for the NA Market managed to make sales because it was something different than the normal yawn of the Ford Line up and was a hit with Escort Enthusiasts like me because the car is its successor and used in motorsport racing.
 

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I can't say why the GM brands failed but as for the 2 Merkurs and the Contour and the Mystique the quality of the wiring and the interior materials were falling apart here in the Florida sun before they were even out of warranty.
The a/c systems were not designed for cooling a car after it had been sitting in 96 degree heat and even the heaters couldn't keep up with the mild winters that we have in Florida.
I know that all the cars worked well in the EU market but I am not sure if they short changed the US on these materials in order to bring them in within budget but if they did then that is what sealed the vehicles fate here.
Also as mentioned before the marketing for Fiesta has been a whole lot more than we have ever seen. I really haven't seen a whole lot of advertising for the Transit but I guess it filled and very nice gap in the market for not a whole lot of money.
I hope that the quality issues of the past models that were brought over have not followed the Fiesta or the Transit but I am willing to take that chance based on the quality that I have seen in the cars that have been coming from Ford lately.
 

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Shamefully the Transit Connect already has had a recall over the headliner. Hope its the only recall it gets.
 

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I had an 88 1/2 Merkur XR4Ti and loved it. Problem is the '85-'87 cars had very poor quality, especially the seat leather and the dash which cracked quickly. On my '88 1/2 all of that was fixed and it worked great but by the mid-'90s it was hard to find a dealer who knew the cars so I sold it and replaced it with a Neon ACR. Still remember the car fondly though and I hope the Fiesta is even better remembered.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)

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On my '88 1/2 all of that was fixed and it worked great but by the mid-'90s it was hard to find a dealer who knew the cars so I sold it
They probably knew the car and just claimed they didn't because to brin one in and then have to replace broken dash or interior trim while doing basic work was not very profitable. We use to have the customer sign the repair order that on cracks that occured during the repair was the customers responsibility.
 

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Although married to the UAW, Ford has severed the ball and chain!

I can't speak about the other cars that failed, but the Transit Connect and the Fiesta both represent a turning of the ship: Ford was one of the most SUV-addicted manufacturers in the US, letting the profit-rich SUVs choke and stagnate their other offerings. Look at what's happened to the Focus since 2001, compared to the Euro Focus.

The presence of all those Explorers on the highway created an arms race among commuters - you might not want to own one, but you DEFINITELY didn't want to get hit by one in your little sedan. I drive 50 miles a day on highways, and in my Alero I was constantly blocked by a wall of SUVs in those years. I remember when they started to lessen after hurricane Katrina and virtually vanished after the stock market declines of 2008 - it was like the clouds parted and I was seeing the world clearly for the first time since 1999! I can see FOR MILES! My palms aren't sweating!! Those lumbering beasts are all going extinct!

So Ford getting the message and giving us small cars and light trucks rather than only giving people interesting technology and cutting-edge performance in their SUV offerings is such a relief to me. It's basically underpinning all of my excitement about the Fiesta and the new Focus.

So that's my take. Chrysler offered the Dodge Caliber two years ago, but it began falling apart (especially the stuff inside the cabin, like aux power jacks and buttons and climate control) so quickly that I never even went to the lot to look at it. 3-month old cars were in the shop already. It was a classic example of "we'll dangle one cheap car in front of them, rather than change our whole thinking." Well, that guarantees that they won't innovate or keep it fresh, cool, and current.

GM might be trying to reform like Ford - redesigning aveo and introducing cruze could be something good. But I don't think they even have global experience standing behind a quality small car they can draw on. At least ford does that with the Euro Ka, Fiesta and Focus. So Ford is the most exciting of them all.
a

1. Ford isn't totally beholding to the UAW.
2. Ford isn't in debt to the taxpayer as GM is. (they said they paid, or are going to pay, but as to this date no money has changed hands)
3. Ford has global assets, and European engineers designing their new offerings, GM had divest all of their Europen holdings to bail them out of the hole Ron Gettelfinger dug them into.
4. More and more of Ford's car offerings will be built outside the US, putting a the "Quality" back in to "Quality is Job one". I drove a 2010 F-150 the other day and it was a great truck, but the fit and finish wasn't anything near the Fiesta in my driveway, and that damn UAW sticker in the window is just a blaring, blatant "we own you" statement.

Chrysler might actually put out some decent products under Fiat if they build them across the pond. Until the Big three, quit cowering down to the UAW quality will remain outside US borders. $70 hour in wages and benefits for retired workers ain't gonna cut it. (especially as long as you have job banks and workers who are not free to demand quality i.e. seperate bargaining units) example, a worker sees a problem on a car but can't fix it because the guy who put that bolt on is in a different bargaining unit, so you have a cripple going out the door.
 

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Shamefully the Transit Connect already has had a recall over the headliner. Hope its the only recall it gets.
I wouldn't consider a faulty headliner a HUGE safety concern versus a sticky gas pedal......And they did market the Transit Connect pretty hard....it was at the big Dallas Autoshow, and the Texas State Fair two years in a row before it launched.....they didn't even do that with the Fiesta......the arketing on the Transit Connect was just more directed in markets where it would sell..(big cities where couriers and deliveries in tight spaces are big sellers) They are all over Dallas.....even AT&T techs are driving them....Labcorp, lots of Air Conditioning companines down here...they are everywhere....and they aren't built by the UAW!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The Transit Connect (an it's cousins of other European brands) are everywhere overhere! Last time I was in the US (a couple of years ago) I only saw pickup trucks everywhere. And MPV's. And SUV's. So I just can't imagine the streets being populated by Transit Connects!

(Maybe I should try my luck with Google Streetview?)
 

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GM had divest all of their Europen holdings to bail them out of the hole Ron Gettelfinger dug them into.
They were going to divest all of their European holdings but didn't. They only got rid of Saab which wasn't their major holding there and has been losing money since they bought it. The new Buick Regal is an Opel/Vauxhall Insignia (and before that it was a Saturn).

Personally, I don't think who assembles it is as important as how its designed and the parts are sourced. For way too long, the cheap engineering and sub-standard parts made many of the cars & trucks made by the big three bad. No matter how you put together bad parts, you're not going to get a good car or truck. The Fiesta is the assembly of good design & parts.
 
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