Young drivers given six-month test drive in European Fiestas to share their experiences online.

By Ford Social Member

The arrival today on U.S. shores of 100 new Ford Fiesta models marks an important step in the rollout of the first of the Ford Motor Company new generation of global small cars.

The European-built Fiesta models arrived today at seaports in Baltimore, Maryland and Oxnard, California and will be loaned for six months to 100 young trendsetters chosen from more than 3,300 applicants as part of the “Fiesta Movement.” Those picked to drive the European Fiesta will share their experiences online through social media sites such as Facebook, FlickR and YouTube to build buzz and anticipation for the vehicle’s North American launch early next year.

The new Fiesta is already a hit in Europe and Asia, where it went on sale last year and earlier this year, respectively. It’s the second-best selling vehicle of any make across 19 major European markets in which Ford operates, and is headed for its best month yet in Europe in March. Early response from buyers in China and other Asia-Pacific markets is outstripping company expectations.

“In the midst of the toughest economy many of us have ever seen, the Fiesta is becoming a legitimate global success story,” said Jim Farley, Ford Group vice president of marketing and communications. “The ‘Fiesta Movement’ is all about introducing a new kind of small car to a new generation of buyers.”

The 100 five-door Fiesta models coming to the U.S. were built at Ford’s Cologne Assembly Plant in Germany. For many U.S. customers, it will be their first chance to see and read about the small car that is one of three finalists for the World Car of the Year award that will be announced next month at the New York International Auto Show.

“We’re really excited to be able to get our U.S. customers behind the wheel and experience this car,” said Sam De La Garza, small car marketing manager. “It’s all part of a plan to build excitement about the new Fiesta with the next generation of Ford customers.”

Designed and developed as the first global car for Ford, the Fiesta takes the nameplate’s three-decade heritage to a new level with its eye-catching kinetic design, widely acclaimed driving dynamics and unexpected refinement.

Before coming to the U.S., the European-spec vehicles were modified for American drivers and special permission was granted by the EPA.

The language in the vehicles’ instrument panel message center was changed from German to English and the speedometers’ dominant displays were changed from kilometers to miles per hour. The voice piping from the Bluetooth-enabled vehicle, however, retains its British accent. All the “Fiesta Movement” vehicles feature keyless entry with push-button start, the Easy Fuel™ capless fuel filler, 16” or 17” wheels, and many other features typically found on larger or premium vehicles.

Agents on a mission

Beginning in late spring, the chosen participants, or “Fiesta Movement” agents, will be asked to complete monthly missions in their vehicles, capture their experiences digitally and share them with Ford and others through social networks.

Ford is aiming the “Fiesta Movement” at Millennials, the next-generation consumer group born between 1979 and 1985 that will total 70 million new drivers in 2010 – the largest class of any generation. Making up 28 percent of the driving age population, the potential size of the market serves as an opportunity for Ford to connect with a group that hasn’t yet established brand loyalty and is very connected to the use of technology and social networking.

For Millennials, social media is a part of everyday life. Statistics show that for those born after 1980, 62 percent of the content they consume comes from someone they know personally. The missions will be designed based on monthly themes that will take them to new places, to meet new people and to experience new things in each Fiesta.

Collecting data about how the car performs in the U.S. market is an integral part of the vehicle’s launch. With this program, Ford aims to gather valuable customer input on how Fiesta is perceived before next year’s North American launch. It’s the first opportunity Ford has ever had to get a wealth of feedback so early on prior to launch – unique in content and unfiltered from a multitude of sources.

The movement already is catching on, with more than 3,300 agent applications to the website and 580,000 views of applicant videos on YouTube.

About Fiesta

In Europe, the Fiesta name has long been synonymous with outstanding performance, design and value. The new Ford Fiesta takes that three-decade heritage to a new level with eye-catching styling and exemplary driving dynamics for U.S. consumers.

The vehicle is also winning awards, including being named Car of the Year 2009 by the authoritative What Car? magazine in the U.K., and earned a prestigious “red dot” international product design prize awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany.

In 2010, the Fiesta will be produced at plants in Germany, Spain, Mexico, Thailand and China for sale in markets around the world. The Fiesta for the North American market will be built at Ford’s assembly plant in Cuautitlán, Mexico.

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David Hermanns 06/15/2009
Where is the "Estate" or wagon version? Need a 5 door big enough to haul a lot of camping gear and a 21' outrigger canoe on top. The equivalent of your old Focus wagon, but with a 6 speed transmission and sport suspension.
Young drivers given six-month test drive in European Fiestas to share their experiences online.
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