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Auto blogMon, 26 Aug 2013 15:30:00 EST
Most automotive purists fear change, but not without reason. Change, after all, did kill big-block V8s, along with most station wagons and manual transmissions. But change has also brought with it far more performance, safety and fuel economy - not to mention ridding the world of shag carpet interiors, bias-ply tires and those horrible motorized seatbelts of the early '90s.
By this time next year, the Chevy Corvette, Jeep Cherokee and next-generation Ford Mustang will all be on sale and will all, in some way, have angered or offended purists. To those critics, Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press is preemptively telling them to stop complaining - at least until they've all been driven. From the Corvette's square taillights and the Cherokee's radical nose to whatever pony car purists will harp on the 2015 Mustang for, Phelan's column points out the positives of automotive evolution and the negatives of staying the course for too long. That's fair enough, but do you think Phelan is on point, or all wet? Head on over to the Detroit Free Press to read his words, then have your say in Comments.
When Ford first announced its plan to put the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine under the hood of the 2014 Fiesta, it promised hybrid-like fuel economy without a hybrid-like premium. We're still waiting for official specs on this engine, but thanks to the EPA's fueleconomy.gov website and Ford's retail site, we now know what customers can expect in terms of both fuel economy and price.
All along, Ford has said that it expects the 1.0-liter EcoBoost to get more than 40 miles per gallon on the highway, and now the EPA backs this up with official ratings of 32 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. These numbers are an increase of two mpg city and four mpg hwy compared to the current fuel-sipping Fiesta (the 1.6 SFE), and it also beats other three-cylinder cars for highway mileage like the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage (44 mpg highway) and 2014 Smart Fortwo (38 mpg highway); the Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost is lower than both three-pot rivals, though, in city fuel economy with the Mitsubishi getting 37 mpg city and the Smart rated at 34 mpg city. This model handily beats high-volume small cars like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Chevy Spark in both city and highway numbers.
As for pricing, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost is offered on both the sedan and hatchback as a $995 option called the SE Manual EcoBoost package, which is aptly named since it's only offered on SE trim-level Fiestas equipped with a manual transmission. Along with the engine, the package also comes with 15-inch steel wheels, regenerative brakes and a decklid spoiler on the sedan. This means the four-door Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost will start at $16,445*, or $17,045* for the hatchback (*not including $795 for destination).
Ford has released projections for its 2013 profits, along with predictions of its 2014 earnings, and the news has forced the company's stock to stumble, falling over seven percent as of this writing. The Blue Oval is expecting earnings of $8.34 billion for 2013, although the bulk of that is coming largely from its North American operations, as troubles abroad continue to take a toll.
Calling 2013 an "outstanding" year, Ford expects its revenue to be up about 10 percent, thanks to gains in market share everywhere but Europe. But it's 2014 predictions that are causing stock prices to fall, as the Dearborn-based manufacturer expects pre-tax profits to fall to $7 to $8 billion, because of troubles in both Europe and South America, according to a report from Reuters. This is despite an expansion plan that will see it open an additional factory in the southern hemisphere, as well as two plants in China, all in a bid to launch 23 new or refreshed products next year.
The issues in South America aren't so much related to a fall in sales - Ford expects improved profits in Brazil and Argentina - but because of currency devaluations in Venezuela that are projected to cost it around $350 million. While that would still allow it to break even with 2013, Ford cites continued economic risks that could push losses even higher.