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New Fiesta to be sold as a hatchback

Ford has confirmed that its long-awaited subcompact Fiesta will be built in Mexico, in a plant that currently builds F-Series full-size pickups and medium-duty trucks.

  • Car queue in the bad traffic road. Selective focus.

Ford has confirmed that its long-awaited subcompact Fiesta will be built in Mexico, in a plant that currently builds F-Series full-size pickups and medium-duty trucks.

The Fiesta – a name last used in North America in 1978-80 – will have the look of the Verve concept car that made the rounds of the major auto shows in various forms last fall and winter.

Reversing its previous position, Ford says the North American model lineup will include the sporty hatchback model that will be sold in Europe, as well as a notchback sedan.

The company previously dropped hatchback and wagon models from its North-American Focus lineup.

“Ford is absolutely committed to leveraging our global assets to accelerate the shift to more fuel-efficient small cars and powertrain technologies that people really want and value,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO, who was in Mexico for the announcement.

He also announced new investment in engine and transmission manufacturing facilities in Mexico. “Our investments in these facilities in Mexico are part of our plan to further realign our manufacturing capacity in line with the introduction of more small cars and crossovers,” Mulally said.

Production of the Fiesta is scheduled to begin early in 2010.

Baby Roller takes form

Like many other automakers, Rolls-Royce is working on a new, smaller car – but not because of the price of gasoline. It’s because the traditional British ultra-luxury carmaker wants a piece of the market now dominated by arch-rival Bentley’s Continental GT and Flying Spur.

While the two were once sister brands and variants of the same basic cars, Rolls-Royce is now owned by BMW and Bentley by Volkswagen.

Smaller is a relative term in this context. The junior Bentleys and the forthcoming Rolls-Royce RR4, as it is currently known, are still big cars but they are smaller than their big brothers, the Bentley Arnage and the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Concept sketches recently released by Rolls-Royce suggest the RR4 will maintain the Phantom’s massive look, with big wheels and a high belt line.

But it will have “a more informal presence than the Phantom models, with a greater emphasis on driving,” according to Rolls chief designer Ian Cameron. It will have “slightly smaller dimensions and more organic form, yet with powerful, purposeful proportions,” he added.

Unlike the Phantom, which shares a version of the V12 engine used in the BMW 7 Series, the RR4 will be powered by a new engine purposely developed for the application. (And possibly with a diesel alternative.)

The new car will be built alongside the Phantom in a renovated and expanded plant in Goodwood, England. It is scheduled for launch in 2010.

New GM compact coming

GM will begin producing a new, as-yet unnamed Chevrolet compact car starting in mid-2010 at Lordstown, Ohio.

“This car will represent the first (North American) application of our global architecture strategy,” said GM chair and CEO Rick Wagoner this week. It will be based on the company’s next-generation Delta architecture, developed in Europe for use around the world.

The fact that the new car will not continue the Cobalt name has caused some speculation that the Cobalt (and Pontiac G5), built on the current Delta platform, also in Lordstown, may continue in production as a price leader.

GM says the new car will be powered by a 1.4 L turbocharged version of its global four-cylinder engine, which will be built in Michigan.

With this engine and a manual transmission, the new small Chevy is expected to be up to one-third more fuel efficient than the current Cobalt, says GM.

The new Delta architecture is expected to make its debut at the Paris auto show, probably in the next-generation Opel Astra. The Chevrolet variant will probably follow at the Los Angeles auto show.

GM also announced that it has approved funding for the plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt, which will be based on a modified version of the same architecture.

“The Chevy Volt is a go,” said Wagoner. “We intend to show a production version of the Volt publicly in the very near future, and we remain focused on our target of getting the Volt into Chevrolet showrooms by the end of 2010.”

Wagoner also confirmed that a next-generation version of the Korean-built Chevrolet Aveo will be released in the second half of 2010. It, too, is expected to have segment-leading fuel economy.

It’s official: Tata owns JLR

Ford and Tata have confirmed that the deal for the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford to Tata has now closed.

Tata paid Ford $2.3 billion (U.S.) in an all-cash transaction for the acquisition. Ford, in turn, contributed about $600 million (U.S.) to the Jaguar Land Rover pension plans, meaning Ford will net only $1.7 billion on the sale.

Ford bought the storied U.K. auto firm in 1989 for $2.5 billion.

The two brands will retain their distinctive identities and continue to pursue their respective business plans as before, he said. Tata also confirmed that David Smith, the acting CEO of Jaguar Land Rover would continue as CEO of the new enterprise.

Part of the deal includes long-term agreements for Ford to supply engines, stampings and other components to JLR as well as to provide transitional IT and accounting support, customer financing, and access to test facilities.

The two companies will continue to co-operate in areas such as design and development through sharing of platforms and joint development of hybrid technologies and powertrain engineering.

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