Ford has only sold small B-Class cars in the US market sporadically over the past thirty years. They sold the European Fiesta in the early eighties and the Kia-built Festiva and Aspire in the early nineties. Making money on those cars has always been difficult because they are not much cheaper to build than a larger car, but Americans in particular have been unwilling to pay more than bargain prices for them.
More recently MINI has demonstrated that small cars can fetch high enough prices to make money by being stylish and well equipped. Ford is now developing a new global small car platform that will be used by various Ford brands and will be coming to the US market. First shown at this years Geneva Motor Show in Mazda2 guise, the new platform will also be the basis of the new Fiesta and a car for the American market, although the name is unknown.
Ford has apparently taken the MINI lesson and is focusing on making the new cars more attractive and better equipped. By keeping costs under control and using the kinetic design language from the Iosis concept and new Mondeo they hope that the new small car can contribute to their revival.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]