Remember when Ford CEO Alan Mulally took over the top job at the auto maker and boldly pronounced, "We will win with great cars!"? I do.
I remember thinking, "Well, this will be interesting to see if Ford can truly become competitive in cars." After all, it was Ford's pathetic car line-up that was a universal joke inside and outside the auto industry. Nothing symbolised it more than the completely forgettable Ford 500. A bland sedan that showed just how far Ford had fallen. As my photographer Bob would say whenever a Ford exec tried to tout the 500, "Does this guy know this car looks like a taxi?"
Against that back drop Mulally proclaimed Ford would revive its car business with edgier looking models that sold in the U.S., Europe, and around the world. It's taken some time, but that strategy is starting to bear some fruit.
Today, the Ford Fiesta has been named a finalist for World Car of the Year by the New York Auto Show. The Toyota iQ and Volkswagen Golf VI are the two other finalists for the award. To qualify, a model must be sold on at least 2 continents.
Sometimes car of the year awards are just another honour handed out in an industry that is always patting itself on the back. Sometimes, however, car of the year awards and nominees show a certain model or brand is truly on the right road. Take the Hyundai Genesis selection as North American Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show in January. It was a ringing endorsement of how far Hyundai has come in building models that can compete with the Camry and Accord.
Ford believes the Fiesta (which will be unveiled in the U.S. later this year), along with the all-new Taurus, Lincoln MKS and Fusion Hybrid will propel the company to the kind of success it needs to have with cars if it is going to survive this global downturn. And that may be true.
Let's see if Ford can ride this wave back to profitability.
Correction: Due to a copy editing error, an earlier posting of this blog included the wrong image of the car - we apologize for the error.
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