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Ford Fiesta discontinued as carmaker targets electric vehicles

Ford has confirmed it is to end production of the Fiesta, after 46 years and multiple facelifts. The car, often touted as the most popular in the UK and topping many new-car registration sales figures, is a victim of the continued electrification of the company’s fleet.

The Ford Fiesta was launched in 1976, with the first model rolling off the production line at Dagenham in 1977, aimed to enter at an affordable price point for British families, especially at a time when fuel-efficiency was key following the oil crisis of 1973.

Since then, more than 20 million Fiestas have been produced, with the car taking to the top of the best-seller charts, holding firm following the discontinuation of the Escort. However, despite topping the chart in 2020, in 2021, the model did not make the top 10 list

A spokesperson told the BBC “[We are] accelerating our efforts to go all in on electrification, and so the company is reviewing the portfolio of cars it has on offer.”

In a video posted to its YouTube channel, the carmaker teased that something new is coming to replace the Fiesta. The end of the video shows a vehicle leaving a garage, with a noticeable electric hum. The model looks like a Puma, and it remains to be seen whether this will be an electrified version of an existing car, or an all new model.

“News that production will end for the enduringly-popular Ford Fiesta is a watershed moment in car manufacturing,” commented James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars. “The Fiesta has been one of the UK’s favourite vehicles since its introduction in 1977.

“The transition to electric vehicles, and changing consumer preferences, means that manufacturers are making tough decisions about the cars they produce. Many British drivers, however, will be disappointed to hear that Ford is calling time on this iconic model.”

Ford Fiesta – the used car icon

Data from Auto Trader also shows how popular the Ford Fiesta is on the used car marketplace. 

Last year, the model was the most advertised car on its online platform, with around 108,000 listings. The closest competitor was the Volkswagen Golf, with about 86,000 advertisements. Between September 2021 and September 2022, there have been over 43 million views of Fiesta adverts.

The Southeast of England is the Fiesta capital of Britain, with more transactions than any other region, as reported by the SMMT. In 2022 the most popular Fiesta colour was black, based on advert views on the Auto Trader marketplace 

“After 46 years and 4.8 million sales, it is a shame to see that the end is in sight for the iconic Ford Fiesta,” said Erin Baker, Editorial Director, Auto Trader. “Our data shows that the Fiesta was the most advertised car on our marketplace this year with over 100,000 listings. In fact, since 2019 we’ve seen over half a million Fiestas advertised on our platform, which really does highlight just how beloved it is.

“Although it is sad to see such an icon disappear from the market, it should enable one of the biggest car brands to really knuckle down on EVs and make them more accessible to more car buyers, which is a very positive step in the right direction.”

Editor’s comment

I have owned four Ford Fiestas, amongst many other vehicles, since I started driving. I learnt to drive in a Fiesta, and a 1.25 Zetec Mk6 was the first brand new car I ever bought. I’ve owned a diesel variant, a frog green version (before it was popular), and an ST. 

That says something about the Fiesta, it was the car for everyone. It may have been small and sometimes passenger comfort was lacking (I am looking at the Mk4 and Mk5 here), but there was a model to suit everyone. Whether you are just starting out, or want something with performance, there was a Fiesta for you. It was the people’s car.

Times change, and so, it seems, does Ford. The Fiesta has fallen out of favour in recent years as drivers gravitate towards bigger SUV models, such as the Puma and Kuga. Electrification is also a key strategy in the boardroom, as the carmaker looks towards a partnership with Volkswagen to use its MEB platform on at least two upcoming models. Money and profitability is key and the Fiesta no longer fits into Ford’s market. 

With the Mondeo already making way, questions are now likely to be raised about the Focus. Another family car, once popular and taking the baton from the Escort (another model I dearly miss), will Ford want to develop it for the electric age, or leave it as a byword for the internal combustion engine, with its ST and RS models headlining the glory of the marque. 

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