Earlier today Ford made the announcement that small car fans in the U.S. and Canada have been waiting for since nearly forever (or at least since the Mark V version was introduced in Europe over 8 years ago) – that production of the 2011 Ford Fiesta has begun at its Cuautitlán Stamping and Assembly Plant in Izcalli, Mexico.
Opened in 1964, the Cuautitlán plant has produced a differing array of Ford vehicles including the Ford LTD/Mercury Grand Marquis, Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar, the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz twins and, most recently, the company’s F-Series trucks.
Since 2008, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company has invested a sizeable chunk of change – $3 billion in round numbers – to upgrade its diesel engine plant in Chihuahua, expand and upgrade its Cuautitlán plant for flexible manufacturing, as well as invest in a joint-venture plant with Getrag in Guanajuato that will produce the Fiesta’s new six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The first Ford Fiesta appeared on our shores in 1977 as a 1978 model after gestating on European roads for 2 years. Built in Ford’s Cologne plant, it was equipped with a 1.6-liter Kent inline-four and fitted with both a catalytic converter and air pump to meet U.S. emissions standards. But after only four years it was replaced in 1991 by the Escort.
This time around, with emission standards between the two continents approaching parity, we will get the latest-generation Fiesta 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan versions with nearly all of their European-engineered goodness intact; minus, unfortunately, the hot shoe rated and hoon-inducing RS and limited edition RS500 variants.
Coming soon to your local Ford dealer
Be that as it may, those of us on this side of the pond (and north of the Mexican border) who truly enjoy great small cars will take what we can get in the hopes that, with the success of the new Fiesta, Ford will eventually see the light and offer North American buyers all the good stuff.