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Ford’s beloved little Fiesta is going away, at least for now

<i>Ford</i><br/>The Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business

The Ford Fiesta, a hugely popular little hatchback in much of the world, will soon no longer appear in Ford’s European dealerships.

Introduced in 1976 as a fuel-efficient subcompact “global car,” the Fiesta was only sold in the United States for about 10 years total, appearing here from 1978 to 1980 and again from 2011 to 2018. It was really a hit in Europe, though, and particularly in the UK where it was the best selling car for many years.

Fiestas have been produced, some time or another, in 15 different factories in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In total, 22 million Fiestas have been manufactured around the world putting it close to the historic Volkswagen Beetle in sheer numbers. Today, Ford’s plant in Cologne, Germany, which started making the car in 2017, is the last. That factory will be turned over entirely to producing electric vehicles once the last Fiesta comes off the assembly line, which is expected to happen in June 2023.

Ford has said it will sell only electric passenger vehicles in Europe by 2030 and that in the next two years it will introduce three new electric passenger vehicles there.

Ford has not announced whether any of those new electric passenger vehicles might pick up the Fiesta moniker or at least take over its segment in the market. The FIesta has a starting price of about £19,000 in the United Kingdom, equivalent to about $22,000.

Development of the first generation of the Fiesta began in 1972 under the direction of then-CEO Henry Ford II. At the time, it was known as Project Bobcat and teams in Europe and the United States worked together on the program. The following year an embargo by oil-producing Arab nations sparked sharp increases in gasoline prices, further fueling demand for a small, efficient car.

It wasn’t until 1976 that the first Fiestas were built in Saarlouis, Germany, and at a new factory in Valencia, Spain. The name Fiesta was chosen for the car, in part, to commemorate the new Spanish factory, according to Ford. The next year, the Fiesta was named Spain’s Car of the Year.

It also quickly became popular in the United Kingdom once right-hand-drive versions, suitable for driving on the left side of the road, were available some months after the car introduction. By 2014, Ford announced that it had become the best selling car there, surpassing Ford’s own Escort. It was the best-selling small car in all of Europe each year from 2011 to 2015, according to Ford. The small, affordable Fiesta was a popular first car for many in the UK.

“Bravo Ford and goodnight Fiesta. Most of us had one or have a story of one,” racing driver and TV commentator Paul O’Neil wrote on Twittter. “My first ever car and what a car it was.”

Besides the fuel-efficient base model, the Fiesta has been produced in performance variants like the Fiesta ST and Fiesta XR2. Fiestas have also been popular among enthusiasts and racers to upgrade with performance parts.

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