The Ford Ka

Ford has cancelled plans for a direct Ka replacement, according to a report carried by Automotive News Europe. The decision was reportedly taken following adverse customer focus reactions to possible Ka successor concepts.

The Ford Ka, launched in Europe in 1996, has heavily cannibalised sales of the similarly sized Ford Fiesta (it was designed and built on a slightly shortened version of the Fiesta platform). Ka’s radical and controversial ‘New Edge’ styling brought some new customers to Ford, but the cannibalisation of Fiesta sales was a worrying trend that could not be reversed. Market positioning of the Ka – and differentiation from the Fiesta range – has caused much debate inside Ford.

The most likely scenario sees the existing Ka carrying on for longer than originally expected – until eventual replacement in 2004. The existing Ka range will be boosted by additional variants, including the StreetKa roadster, which will be launched in 2003.

As part of the policy of extending the current Ka’s life, Automotive News Europe says that Ford plans to bring in a new and more powerful 1.6-litre engine from South Africa. The RoCam engine, fitted to the locally produced Ford Ikon, would be an answer to persistent criticisms that the current 1.3-litre 58 bhp engine is underpowered.

Big question-marks surround Ford’s plans post-Ka. It seems likely that Ford will be looking to retain a presence in the City Car market segment occupied by the Ka. Industry speculation is rife that Ford will consider building a City Car that is significantly smaller than the Fiesta and scaled more in line with other City Car or ‘A’ Segment competitors such as the Volkswagen Lupo or Fiat Seicento. The challenge for Ford would be to achieve that without investing huge sums in a whole new mini-car platform. The City Car segment is notoriously low-margin.

Ford’s apparent decision to extend the life of the current Ka and drop a direct successor, follows the recent decision to drop the small Puma coupe – also based on the Fiesta BE91 platform.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Ford Strategic Review

Global Car Forecasts to 2005