Ford CEO Alan Mulally has turned down a proposal for a small sports coupe developed by Ford of Europe. According to Autocar, the sports coupe was supposed to slot in beneath the Mustang in the future Ford lineup.
Ford of Europe reportedly designed the car based on an existing vehicle platform and created a business case for the model. But Autocar says Mulally turned down the sports coupe because he believes the market for small, sporty two-doors is too small.
Although Ford has committed to selling the next-generation Mustang in Europe, executives there reportedly think the pony car will be too large and too thirsty for Europe's narrow streets and highly-taxed fuel. A smaller sub-Mustang might fare better there than the full-size car.
Ford's European wing has a long history of building sporty models, from a range of hotted-up Escorts, to the teensy Puma and the larger Cougar, to the Ford Capri, and recent entries like the prior Focus RS. The American market used to entertain sporty small cars, too, with entries like the Probe and an SVT version of the Contour sedan.
But with car sales already falling across the pond -- Ford of Europe expects to lose $1.5 billion this year as car sales there have dropped to the lowest point in two decades -- it's tough to justify a low-volume, limited-appeal model like a small sports coupe.
Still, Ford won't totally forego small performance cars. After months of anticipation, the company has confirmed that the Fiesta ST (pictured) will be sold in the U.S. as well as Europe -- and with 197 hp on tap, it should be no slouch in the performance department. Ford expects the Fiesta ST to return 34 mpg on the highway in EPA testing, which should make the small car appealing even in European countries with high gas prices.