Ford is so amazed that people in America are actually warm to hatchback cars that they put out a big long press release about it today? Do they not know their buyers as good as they thought they did? Never mind the fact that almost every SUV and Crossover vehicle that makes the auto market hum is a hatchback.
But for the longest time American car companies have been convinced that we just don’t want hatchbacks, just like we supposedly don’t want diesel powered cars. But Ford today has announced that they are selling a surprising amount of their 5-door Focus and Fiesta models. In fact they are even selling almost as many of them as the sedan versions with a conventional trunk.
Ford says that approximately 50 percent of retail sales of the 2011 Fiesta have been for hatchbacks. On the market for just a few months, 41 percent of retail sales for the all-new 2012 Focus have been for the hatchback – a number Ford expects to continue rising.
“The hatchback is hitting an unmet need for versatility as people continue to downsize their vehicles,” said Paul Russell, Focus brand manager. “No other competitor in the top-five of total market share offers a hatchback option in the small car segment.”
The total number of hatchbacks available in the U.S. market increased 63 percent between model years 2006 and 2010, going from 291,853 to 475,048, according to Ward’s Auto World data.
Unsure of how the market would react to new hatchback offerings, Ford prepared itself by investing in flexible plant capacity. This flexibility ensures Ford is able to react quickly to changing tastes, providing a vehicle mix – hatchback or sedan, base model or fully loaded Titanium – to serve varied customer demands.
Fact is, the hatchback makes more sense and turns a sedan into a mini-SUV when it comes to utility. Not only do you get more cargo space but more useable cargo space. That utility is what has made SUV and crossover vehicles so popular for the last couple decades. It’s a wonder why the automakers are just waking up to the idea for small cars.
Combined sales for the Fiesta and Focus in June were 26,920, up 66 percent from June 2010. Fiesta sales were 5,535 and Focus sales were 21,385, up 41 percent from the prior June – making it the best-selling Ford car of the month.
Now that they see the light, one wonders if they will have the guts to offer the Fiesta or Focus in a 3-door hatch with a diesel engine that gets 55 mpg? Don’t hold your breath. Americans would never want such things.