'We'll now get 50,000 - even though we could use 100,000,' said Jamil Zarif, newly elected president of the Brazilian Ford Dealers' Association. 'We need cars to help us win back our place in the market.'
Ford announced in August that it will begin producing the Fiesta in Brazil in early 1996 at the rate of 200,000 a year, about half of which will be exported. As a stopgap, Ford said it would import 30,000 Fiestas in 1995.
But Ford sales are off 2 percent through November to 147,350 units in a market that is up 13 percent to record highs, and the automaker's dealers are in no mood to wait for new product. Since 1987, when it peaked at 22 percent, Ford's share of the local market has plummeted 10 points.
Dealers say they desperately need something fresh to compete with new models from Volkswagen and General Motors. VW expects to produce and sell 240,000 units of the all-new Gol in 1995, while GM forecasts sales of 150,000 Corsas.
The Fiesta will be targeted at the fast-growing 1.0-liter populares market, which was created to spur local production and sales by broadening the base of car owners. Cars in the segment are tax exempt, but must be priced at the equivalent of $7,250 or less. Since its inception in 1994, the segment has mushroomed to account for more than half of the total market.