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Dodge, Ford to Build Scion Fighters?
Toyota’s Scion brand has been a runaway hit for the Japanese automaker ever since being launched in 2003. Designed to appeal to Generation “Y” buyers, the vehicles are popular, edgy – some would say ugly – and have given Toyota an important toehold with young buyers. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are preparing to respond to Scion, but in different ways. GM is planning to import more vehicles from its Daewoo subsidiary while Ford and Chrysler are expected to build all new Scion fighting vehicles in Mexico, good news for motorists looking for affordable and quality vehicles. Let’s take a look at what’s coming down the pike.
For the record, Scion isn’t the only vehicle made for the Generation Y crowd. Honda’s Element and soon to be released Fit subcompact are Scion competitors while the Chevy Cobalt, Dodge Caliper, and Saturn ION are also aimed toward youthful drivers. With that being said, Dodge [Chrysler] and Ford must respond and it appears that both automakers will be fielding Scion fighters within the next two years.
The Dodge Hornet
Lo and behold, Dodge is nearing the finalization of its plans to build the Dodge Hornet. According to industry sources including Edmunds, the Hornet will be based on the VW Polo, a subcompact car built by Volkswagen and popular in the European market. This deal is amazing as Volkswagen and Mercedes [a DaimlerChrysler division, as is Dodge] compete fiercely, especially in Europe. VW has a plant in Mexico that likely will produce the Hornet as the company has excess capacity and the cost advantage that no American manufacturing plant can offer. For its part, VW gets to sell rebadged versions of the Dodge Caravan minivan.
If based on the Polo, the Hornet is expected to use the Polo’s 1.6L engine and be paired with a VW transmission. Beyond that, look for the vehicle to be closer in appearance to the Scion xA design, sport a five door hatchback design, and seat five passengers. Currently, the xA sells for just over $13,000, so expect the Dodge to compete at or below the Scion price.
The Ford Bronco
Don’t expect Ford to sit back and watch from the sidelines as the market trends toward more Scion-like vehicles. In 2004 a concept Ford Bronco, taking styling cues from the 1966 Bronco truck, made its appearance at auto shows. Now, Ford appears ready to go ahead with the Bronco which will also be built in Mexico.
Featuring a boxy design, the Bronco will be similar in design to the xB and to the Hornet and will likely be built on the existing Fiesta platform to hold costs down. Indeed, Ford is hoping that a budget Bronco will sell for less than $10,000 as it battles cheap imports expected from China as well as other Generation “Y” vehicles on the market.
Yes, the car wars never end and more battles are certain to ensue. Both Nissan with its Versa and a tiny Toyota by the name of Yaris will soon be released and competing on the market before the Hornet and Bronco arrive in 2008 as 2009 models.
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