Bell-bottom jeans and platform shoes have made
their comebacks. Ford Motor Co. now hopes the '70s hatchback can do
The world's second-largest automaker plans to supply North
American showrooms with its five-door Focus ZX5 hatchback this
Analysts appear split on whether hatchbacks can be revived like
John Travolta's career or whether they will go the way of the Pet
"Hatchbacks just don't make a fashion statement," said Ron
Pinelli of Autodata Corp. "American tastes are just not in
hatchback mode, and I'd be surprised if those cars could be cool
Nextrend's Chris Cedergren said he thinks young people will find
the ZX5 intoxicatingly European.
"You can't say five-doors have been dead in this market, so
they'll be dead in the future," Cedergren said. "I think they'll
Toyota, Honda and Mazda essentially have abandoned the hatchback
in the United States, where Pinelli believes such vehicles are
viewed as cheap economy cars.
But Ford is betting that younger buyers will like the ZX5, with
its four doors, hatchback and foldable rear seats.
"Perhaps it's because today's buyers have become so accustomed
to the shape and functionality of SUVs and minivans," Martin
Inglis, head of Ford's North American operations, said Wednesday at
the Toronto auto show.
Ford has not said how much the ZX5 will cost but expects to sell
about 20,000 in the United States, where its only true competitor
Volkswagen AG's Golf sold 28,124 last year.
The Focus debuted last year as the fifth-best selling car in the
United States with 286,166 units sold, trailing only the Toyota
Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Taurus and Honda Civic.
Ford introduced the Focus ZX5 during its North American debut
Wednesday at the Toronto auto show. The model already has proven
popular with Europeans, making up 44 percent of Ford's Focus sales
there last year, said George Pipas, Ford's sales analyst.
"That's huge," he said.
But Pinelli said differences between European and American
consumers explains the ZX5's popularity overseas. To him, Europeans
put more of a premium on a vehicle's functionality, cargo space and
mileage than do Americans "more concerned about how they'll look