Back in July, Ford released the details of a new Fiesta it plans to begin selling this November. The new car is based on Ford’s ECOnetic platform and can get 63 mpg in the city and 73 mpg on the highway. So why is it only available in Europe? It’s a diesel, and Ford doesn’t think Americans will ever adopt diesel cars.
According to Businessweek, Ford lists a littany of excuses why they could never market this car in the US. Chief among these excuses is that they don’t think they could ever sell enough of them to make a profit. Ford says that in order to produce them for the US market they’d have to build a new plant and then make at least 350,000 of them a year.
If there’s no way to make a profit on these cars and Americans won’t buy them, why are so many European and Asian car makers bringing these new “clean diesels” to the U.S. starting next year? When I see news that Mercedes, Nissan, Volkswagen and even Honda are all building clean diesel cars with excellent fuel economy for the US market, Ford’s excuses start to seem pretty hollow.
Why is it that in the face of going bankrupt, U.S. car makers are so willing to maintain the status quo and slowly die a painful and agonizing death? Look, I understand some basic economics and that a company that is doing its shareholders right won’t take unnecessary risks, but the time for trepidation has past. Get on board or risk losing everything.
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Meanwhile, all I can do is hang my head and shake it. I want to be able to buy American cars again. In fact, every time one of the top U.S. car makers has some crazy desperation sale, I go online and take a look at the line-up… but I can never find a car I’d actually buy.
It’s not that the cars are ugly, or that I don’t trust their reliability — it’s that what I’m looking for is a fuel efficient vehicle that won’t break the bank and looks nice. And when I say “fuel efficient,” I don’t mean 30 mpg. I don’t even mean 40 mpg (my puny Yaris can already pull that one off). I want something with a drastic fuel economy improvement.
I want a car that in some way shows I care about the planet and understand that our future and our childrens’ future depends on drastically changing our habits now. But I also want a car that shows I support buying locally (in this case domestically) and that supports the economy of my own country.
And I know there are millions of other people like me. That’s why I want US car makers to wake up and start selling the cars people want.
You see, in my world I have a fantasy in which I purchase a nice little chunk of farmable land — say 10 acres — grow my own oilseed (like Camelina), crush it and make all of the biodiesel I would ever need (plus some to give my friends). In my fantasy, my operation would be powered completely off of wind, solar and geothermal and I could continue to make my own fuel even if the rest of the world went to hell in a handbasket.
So please Ford (or GM or Chrysler), make my dream a possibility. Take some chances. Stop applying band-aids in a last ditch defense of crusty old shareholders and go on the offensive. That’s how you built the company in the first place, and that’s how you can save it.
Posts Related to the Re-tooling of the US Auto Industry and Clean Diesels:
- “Producible” Chrysler Plug-In Hybrid: 0-60 in 4 Seconds
- VW Clean Diesels Get $1,300 Federal Tax Credit
- Clean Diesel Cars Coming to US This Fall: 2008-2010 Timeline
- Like GM, Ford Decides They’d Better Start Producing Smaller, More Fuel-Efficient Cars
- How to Build an Electric Car Charging Infrastructure: Smart Grids, Fast Charging and Universal Access
- Prototype Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid: 88 MPG on 85% Ethanol
- Camelina – The Next Generation Biofuel?
- Japan Finally Gets a Clean Diesel Car
Image Credit: Ford