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The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can't Have

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by trickblue, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament...

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    The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can't Have


    Ford's Fiesta ECOnetic gets an astonishing 65 mpg, but the carmaker can't afford to sell it in the U.S.

    [IMG] The ECOnetic will go on sale in Europe in November


    by David Kiley

    If ever there was a car made for the times, this would seem to be it: a sporty subcompact that seats five, offers a navigation system, and gets a whopping 65 miles to the gallon. Oh yes, and the car is made by Ford Motor (F), known widely for lumbering gas hogs.

    Ford's 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic goes on sale in November. But here's the catch: Despite the car's potential to transform Ford's image and help it compete with Toyota Motor (TM) and Honda Motor (HMC) in its home market, the company will sell the little fuel sipper only in Europe. "We know it's an awesome vehicle," says Ford America President Mark Fields. "But there are business reasons why we can't sell it in the U.S." The main one: The Fiesta ECOnetic runs on diesel.

    Automakers such as Volkswagen (VLKAY) and Mercedes-Benz (DAI) have predicted for years that a technology called "clean diesel" would overcome many Americans' antipathy to a fuel still often thought of as the smelly stuff that powers tractor trailers. Diesel vehicles now hitting the market with pollution-fighting technology are as clean or cleaner than gasoline and at least 30% more fuel-efficient.

    Yet while half of all cars sold in Europe last year ran on diesel, the U.S. market remains relatively unfriendly to the fuel. Taxes aimed at commercial trucks mean diesel costs anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than gasoline. Add to this the success of the Toyota Prius, and you can see why only 3% of cars in the U.S. use diesel. "Americans see hybrids as the darling," says Global Insight auto analyst Philip Gott, "and diesel as old-tech."

    None of this is stopping European and Japanese automakers, which are betting they can jump-start the U.S. market with new diesel models. Mercedes-Benz by next year will have three cars it markets as "BlueTec." Even Nissan (NSANY) and Honda, which long opposed building diesel cars in Europe, plan to introduce them in the U.S. in 2010. But Ford, whose Fiesta ECOnetic compares favorably with European diesels, can't make a business case for bringing the car to the U.S.
    TOO PRICEY TO IMPORT

    First of all, the engines are built in Britain, so labor costs are high. Plus the pound remains stronger than the greenback. At prevailing exchange rates, the Fiesta ECOnetic would sell for about $25,700 in the U.S. By contrast, the Prius typically goes for about $24,000. A $1,300 tax deduction available to buyers of new diesel cars could bring the price of the Fiesta to around $24,400. But Ford doesn't believe it could charge enough to make money on an imported ECOnetic.

    Ford plans to make a gas-powered version of the Fiesta in Mexico for the U.S. So why not manufacture diesel engines there, too? Building a plant would cost at least $350 million at a time when Ford has been burning through more than $1 billion a month in cash reserves. Besides, the automaker would have to produce at least 350,000 engines a year to make such a venture profitable. "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars," says Fields.

    The question, of course, is whether the U.S. ever will embrace diesel fuel and allow automakers to achieve sufficient scale to make money on such vehicles. California certified VW and Mercedes diesel cars earlier this year, after a four-year ban. James N. Hall, of auto researcher 293 Analysts, says that bellwether state and the Northeast remain "hostile to diesel." But the risk to Ford is that the fuel takes off, and the carmaker finds itself playing catch-up—despite having a serious diesel contender in its arsenal.

    Kiley is a senior correspondent in BusinessWeek's Detroit bureau.
  2. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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  3. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    There's no one driving that car :eek:
  4. Rack Bauer

    Rack Bauer Federal Agent

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    Steering wheel is on the right. There's a chic driving it.
  5. Signals

    Signals Suspicious looking stranger

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    Silence!!! I kill you.
  6. ChoiceWords

    ChoiceWords New Member

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    Of course they can't afFord to sell it. That would do two things. It would put less gas guzzlers on the road for their buddies and cronies in crime, big big oil. And it would decrease profits in the auto business if they were to sell the cars at a fair price because there would be a decline in sales for their money maker, the SUV.

    But they can only do this for so long. The trend is coming. I doesn't matter who is elected president. We're going through a transportation revolution in the near future and there will be a shift in what kinds of cars people drive.
  7. Rack Bauer

    Rack Bauer Federal Agent

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    Agreed 100%.

    Even oil companies are starting to put resources into alternate fuel research. Even they know the day is coming.
  8. ChoiceWords

    ChoiceWords New Member

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    Politics aside, I'm all for it. I think we could pull it off pretty quickly if we set a feasible time frame and got most of the country on board. Of course, there will always be the resisters. But that's a drop in the bucket when compared to what we could do.
  9. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament...

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    http://www.pickensplan.com/
  10. Hostile

    Hostile Persona Non Grata Zone Supporter

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    By jove I think you've got it.
  11. ABQCOWBOY

    ABQCOWBOY Moderator Staff Member

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    I was in a meeting with some of the DOE guys I know about a month or so ago. Needless to say, all of these guys are infinatly smarter then I. We were all going to get a bite to eat and a couple of the fellas drove with me. We were having a discussion about gas prices, about the 70s and remebering the gas shortages that went on then. Anyway, one thing lead to another and one of the fellas was saying that he and his wife had bought a Honda several years ago. He said that they eventually had to get rid of it because it just would not run any longer. Anyway, he was saying that they got something in the area of 40 miles to the gallon in that thing so they had just recently gotten another. The new one only got like 28. Technology is out there and has been out there for some time IMO. The Big3 don't want it used. They are in league with the Oil Companies. I think this problem is much easier to solve then any of them would like to admit. Sucks for us.
  12. jrumann59

    jrumann59 Well-Known Member

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    I can see the point but the one thing that isn't mentioned by the respondents on this thread is the tax on diesel that makes it more expensive then gas. Much of the efficient of diesel gets pissed out the window on the cost of fuel, if more diesels came over the price would climbe even higher causing many more problems economically, look at what the move toward diesel european cars in this country did it helped drive fuel costs higher for the truckers which in turn pushed goods brought in by truck higher. Now naming the Prius a little darling is bit of stretch, the envoronmental problems involved with disposal of their worn out batteries do not get covered much by the mainstream media along with maintenance and repair costs.
  13. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    I could be wrong, but didn't diesel used to be cheaper than regular gas? It seems like the cost of diesel has only jumped up in the past 5-7 years or so.
  14. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament...

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    It used to be a LOT cheaper...

    I never understood why it went so high. When gas was hitting a dollar a gallon a few years back (yes I'm dating myself) diesel pick-ups started rolling out of Detroit. Sometime soon after that, diesel became very expensive...

    When gas was a dollar a gallon, diesel was 69 cents...
  15. Rack Bauer

    Rack Bauer Federal Agent

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    Don't know a lot about Diesel engines, but don't they get much better MPG than regular engines? So even if diesel cost about the same as regular gas, wouldn't you get a lot more out of it?
  16. jrumann59

    jrumann59 Well-Known Member

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    I think a lot of it had to do with Mercedes and VW bringing over their diesel cars that sort of pushed the demand for diesel over the top. Before it was used strickly used by the blue collar crowd. When the gas started going up because of the SUV craz many people switched to diesel which caused the limited production of diesel skew the price along with ne taxes and EPA requirements of diesel the price went up.
  17. AtlCB

    AtlCB Active Member

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    No wonder it won't sell here -the steering wheel is on the wrong side!!! :lmao: :lmao: :lmao:

    Also, the Golf tdi and other diesel powered German cars are selling well here.
  18. vta

    vta The Proletariat

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    Yeah, but they probably don't get 65 MPG's...
  19. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament...

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    The tdi engine is a turbo diesel and they offer it on Golf's, Jetta's, Bugs, Passat's and a couple of other cars...

    It gets 40+ mpg an every car it's in...
  20. masomenos

    masomenos Less is more

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    Yeah that's what I thought. What a shame too, if diesel were still 69% the cost of regular gas that'd put it right around 2.51 per gallon. 65 miles for $2.51, man that'd be sweet.

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