Fords next Ka minicar will debut in mid-2008, at least a half year after the Fiat 500 on which it is based.
When Fiat Auto begins building the Ka in Tychy, Poland, the model will share its architecture and powertrains with the Fiat 500. That includes Fiat gasoline engines and a General Motors-Fiat diesel.
The 1.3-liter diesel is produced at a GM-Fiat joint venture plant in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, 40km south of Tychy.
The Italian carmaker started a 500-day production countdown in May, aiming at a Fiat 500 debut at the September 2007 IAA in Frankfurt. The Ford Ka wont be ready for that auto show.
Ford starts later
"It will be later because we stepped into the project at a later stage," Ford of Europe President and CEO John Fleming told Automotive News Europe in an interview.
The Ka won't reach the market before the summer of 2008, Ford sources said. Fleming said only that the Ka launch would have "the right timing."
He added that Ka customers are loyal, but the minicar segment has changed.
"Originally, the Ka did not have rivals, but now it does," said Fleming, who declined to forecast sales. "We have agreed on a volume with Fiat," he said.
Industry sources say that Fiat and Ford will split the planned 240,000-unit annual volume at Tychy.
New sheet metal
Unlike the almost identical-looking Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 jointly built in Kolin, Czech Republic, the Ka will get unique sheet metal to differentiate it from the Fiat 500, Ford sources say.
"We are using a Fiat architecture but with a Ford top hat," Fleming confirmed.
But Ford powertrains don't fit the Fiat architecture.
"We will use Fiat engines and transmissions," Fleming said. He declined to say whether the Ka would get a diesel.
But Ford sources say the Ka will have a diesel. Because the 1.4-liter Ford-PSA joint venture diesel is too tall to fit in the Ka engine bay, it is easier to use the GM-Fiat 1.3-liter diesel already planned for the Fiat 500, Ford sources said. Redesigning the front end to fit Ford's own engines would be too expensive and time consuming.