DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is debating whether its upcoming subcompact should be an entry-level model or an eye-catching, premium car.
Ford's entry into the so-called B segment -- smaller than the current Focus -- is expected to arrive in 2009 or 2010. Peter Horbury, Ford Motor Co.'s executive director of design for North America, said the automaker is intrigued by the lofty prices charged for some small cars.
"There are certainly obvious examples of how to make a profitable small car, a small car that has a high value," Horbury said. "With the Mini, for example, it is astonishing how high that (price) goes."
Mini sticker prices start at about $18,000 for a base sedan but top $30,000 for loaded performance models.
Speaking at the automaker's 2007 product preview on Wednesday, June 21, Horbury said that, while Ford may not duplicate Mini pricing, "there is a much wider possibility of a wider price range for small cars in America because it is not just entry-level anymore."
Horbury said importing a car has not been ruled out.
No timetable was given for the decision. But Mark Fields, Ford Motor's president of the Americas, said earlier this year that at least one subcompact car would be on the market in North America in three or four years. That car would be smaller than the Ford Focus.
Horbury said a key to a premium Ford small car would be "bold American styling."
"There are plenty of imported B cars," he said. But "they are not doing bold American anywhere but America. My ambition is to design the true American small car."
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