Ford Motor’s announcement in October that it would discontinue the Fiesta small car next year is the most dramatic sign yet of difficulties facing a segment that once defined Europe’s car market but now is facing a cost crisis.
The small car segment lost its position as Europe’s most popular car type to small SUVs through the first nine months of this year, according to figures from market analyst Dataforce.
Sales dropped 17 percent to 1.23 million, compared with 1.43 million for small SUVs. And that second place may not be safe: Compact SUVs threaten to push small cars to third in 2023.
Ford’s decision to drop the Fiesta to concentrate on SUVs is the culmination of the company’s desire to rid itself of unprofitable models, even if they continue to be popular. As recently as 2015 the Fiesta was Europe’s best-selling small car and the second-best seller overall, after the Volkswagen Golf.
Ford has deprioritized production of the Fiesta amid parts shortages and frequent stoppages at its assembly plant in Cologne, Germany. Registrations have fallen 36 percent this year, pushing it down to ninth place (see chart, below).