Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top 5 American Cars Not Sold in America

5. Ford Falcon
Sold in: Australia and New Zealand

The Ford Falcon was originally sold in the U.S., and during the 1960s it was one of the bestselling compact cars on the market. But an inability to meet safety standards and increased competition from Chevy led to a decline in sales, and the car was phased out of Ford’s U.S. fleet in 1970. In Australia, however, the Falcon name is still alive and well. The car was introduced there in 1960 with the goal of competing with Holden, an Australia-based carmaker that was then dominating the market. Ford Australia released the Falcon XK to near-immediate success, and since then it’s been one of the most steady-selling sedans down under, with over 3 million units produced. The cars were originally imported from the States, but there were complaints about reliability, and in 1964 they were redesigned to cope with the harsher driving conditions of the outback. Since then, there have been seven different generations of the car, a number of spin-offs (including the Landau and the Futura), and even a sport utility version.  Because of its economy and V8 option, the Falcon has even become a popular fleet vehicle for both taxi services and police departments.
4. Ford Ka
Sold in: Europe, Latin America

Ford’s Ka, a sub-compact hatchback marketed primarily in Europe, might be one of the most famous Ford vehicles that Americans have never heard of. It’s one of the bestselling models in a class that has come to be known as “city cars”—small, lightweight, fuel-efficient vehicles made for the traffic and tight parking spaces of urban areas. These kinds of nimble, low-power vehicles have never quite caught on in the States, where power is often prized above all else, but they’ve been popular in Europe for years. The Ka is certainly of the most successful examples. Since its debut in 1996, it’s become one of the best-selling “supermini” cars in England, where it makes up over 20 percent of the city car market. At nearly 45 miles to the gallon, the Ka gets phenomenal gas mileage, but its sharp handling has also seen it used as a rally car in the past. An increased demand for small, fuel-efficient cars in the U.S. has stirred rumors that the Ka would be released stateside, but it was recently confirmed that the similar, slightly larger Ford Fiesta would be issued instead. According to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, for the time being cars like the Ka are simply too small to compete in the American market.
3. Buick Excelle/Chevy Optra
Sold in: China, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and India

While it’s widely known that the same cars are often given different names depending on the market in which they’re sold (this is true of nearly every car sold in multiple countries), it might come as a surprise that sometimes the manufacturer’s name changes as well. This is certainly the case with China’s Buick Excelle. Depending on where you are in the world, the car might also be known as the Daewoo Lacetti (Korea), the Chevy Optra (Canada), or the Holden Viva (Australia and New Zealand). This identity crisis is thanks to the multinational nature of modern car companies. GM, which has long used Buick as its luxury car branch, also owns the Korean company Daewoo (which first manufactured the car) and the Australian brand called Holden, and it re-brands cars according to their location in order to help boost sales. These days, the Lacetti/Optra/Excelle/Viva is sold throughout the world and is marketed to families as an economically priced compact sedan (the British automotive show Top Gear even used an incarnation of it for its “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment). The newest incarnation is based on the Chevy Cruze, another GM world car, and rumor has it that it might finally be making its way to the U.S. sometime soon. Who knew car brands could be used so creatively.
2. Ford Transit
Sold in: Europe

If you’ve ever been to Europe, then you’re no doubt familiar with the Ford Transit, which has become so well known there that in some places its name has come to be just another word for “van.” Like the Econoline series in the U.S., the Transit is an oversized, front wheel drive van that it is often appropriated as a work vehicle. It’s one of the most ubiquitous vehicles on the roads of countries like England and Germany, and since 1965 as many as 5 million have been manufactured at the Ford plant in Southampton, UK. There have now been as many as seven different generations of the vans, which have been outfitted for use as everything from taxis to ice cream trucks and motor homes. The Transit is now available with a manual transmission and a diesel engine, and it’s gained a reputation among enthusiasts for having an uncannily “car-like” feel for such a big vehicle. The hosts of Top Gear put this claim to the test in 2005, when they let German racer Sabine Schmitz take one around the notorious Nurburgring road course. Amazingly, Schmitz was able to complete the circuit in a Transit in nearly the same time it took one of the hosts to finish in a Jaguar sports car.
1. Ford Focus
Sold in: Worldwide (excluding North and South America)

The Ford Focus, as you might be thinking, is sold in the United States. But the two and four-door versions of the car sold in America are actually quite different from the international version of the Focus, which is sold nearly everywhere else in the world outside of America. The international Focus shares similar parts and components with the Mazda 3 and a few different Volvo cars, and comes in several different styles, including two and four-door versions and hatchbacks. Like most European cars, it also features an optional diesel engine. The sportier versions of the international Focus have gained a great deal of praise in Europe for their impressive performance. According to Motor Trend magazine, the car’s multi-link rear suspension results in surprisingly nimble handling, and it even managed to negotiate a slalom test course faster than cars made by Jaguar and Bentley. It’s this kind of performance that earned the Focus the 1999 European Car of the Year Award. It’s consistently been Ford’s biggest seller in Europe, where as many as 400,000 are sold every year, and worldwide over 9.2 million have been sold since its release in 1998. The American version of the car has also been a success, but it’s expected to be discontinued in 2011, when the third generation of the international model will be released worldwide.


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