Contrary to the downward trend in retail registrations for non-luxury, turbocharged small hatchbacks for many automakers, Ford is experiencing - and reveling in - the exact opposite. Reports show a 21 percent decrease in 2016 overall for other automakers, as buyers gravitate increasingly towards SUVs; however, the Blue Oval recently posted a hair over a 21 percent gain in retail new vehicle registrations through September, and has had particular success with the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and Focus RS. All three are its newest hot hatchback models.
Although the statistics are exciting, they also pique curiosity. How is it that Ford has not only avoided the downward trend? Even more puzzling, how has managed to increase its registrations? The answer, according to Ford Focus brand manager Jessica Bishop, lies in Ford's international reputability.
“For decades, we heard criticism from customers that Ford sold its best small cars only in Europe, yet in five short years we’ve built a reputation here for making very serious but affordable performance cars with our Focus ST and Fiesta ST one-two punch,” she said. “Buyers now know Ford is committed to affordable performance.”
Erich Merkle, a sales analyst for Ford, called out the Focus' success in particular.
“Non-luxury, turbocharged small hatchbacks are down 21 percent year-over-year, but our turbocharged Ford Focus is up 37 percent," he revealed. "With the shift into SUVs and crossovers, our hot hatches are bucking the trend.”
Since small hatchbacks outside the Ford family aren't providing too much competition at this point, the fight for first place is now being contested between the Ford Focus ST, Fiesta ST and Focus RS. The latter puts up a strong front, offering 350-horsepower all-wheel drive, and its debut in the lineup puts retail registrations of Ford's hot hatchbacks up over 21 percent year over year. The Focus ST increased over five percent in the same timeframe, while registrations increased seven percent for the Fiesta ST. The data comes from Ford's analysis of IHS Markit retail registrations of new vehicles through September 2016, which is the most up-to-date information accessible.
Stay apprised of the current hatchbacks on the lot by visiting Sound Ford in Seattle, Washington, and keep an eye out for what's on tap moving into 2017.