"The B-car is going to happen," says Ford Motor Co.'s O'Conner.
The vehicle probably will be a spinoff of the Brazilian-made Ford EcoSport car. The EcoSport rides on the Fiesta platform, which is the basis of many of Fords European small-segment cars.
Ford affiliate Mazda Motor Corp. is leading development of the next-generation Fiesta platform. The new US entry is likely to migrate to Mazdas platform.
Ford division dealers in the US have been demanding a new product slotted below the Focus.
Ford has acknowledged it was exploring a US entry for the segment, often called the B- or small-car segment in Europe.
The B-car is going to happen, said Jim OConnor, retiring group vice president of North American marketing, sales and service. Its in the cycle plan.
Ford sources wouldnt confirm exact timing.
The look of the new car is unclear, but it will be more than an a fuel-efficient but boxy car. It would need to stand out, a Ford source said.
Sport wagon or SUV-inspired styling is likely, based on concept vehicles the automaker has shown in the segment.
Ford is showing a lower-medium concept car at the 2005 Detroit auto show. That will mark the third straight year Ford has experimented with a design concept for this segment.