The Ford Ka (pronounce it like a Bostonian saying "car") is the Blue Oval's sub-Fiesta offering in a number of markets that aren't North America. It's been a staple in Europe since it launched in 1996 and in South America since 1997, where it's enjoyed quite a bit of popularity as an affordable, efficient city car.
As we told you about before, there were four episodes planned for the Ford Fusion GP campaign in Brazil, and the whole series has now run its course. The Ford ads pit Brazilian Formula One driver Nelson Piquet against English F1 pilot Nigel Mansell driving the new Fusion, the two coming together again after their partnership at the Williams F1 team ended in a miserable state more than 20 years ago.
Formula One World Champions Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell haven't been on good terms since the 1986 season, when Piquet joined Mansell at the Williams team and Piquet spent the year privately fuming about not being granted the status of number one driver. Things only got worse from there – even though Piquet won the title the following year with Williams, still partnered with Mansell, the fuming was a lot less private.
Apparently, money does really grow on trees these days, but only those exotic ones found exclusively in South America. OK, maybe not, but somehow Ford has come across a significant amount of coin, all of which will be poured into the continent to our south.
Between now and 2011, Ford Motor Company will invest $1.02 billion in its Brazilian operations (on top of the previously announced $139 million the company plans to spend on product development and capacity expansion at its Sao Paulo state plant). Ford announced the investment Thursday, along with the confirmation that it will buy the Brazilian off-road vehicle maker Troller for an undisclosed amount. Brazil is the world's most advanced ethanol market.
Ford operates three factories in Brazil where it has a 12% market share. According to a Detroit News article in July, 20% of Ford's 2005 worldwide profit came from its Brazilian operations. But it looks like hefty competition from the usual suspects (Honda, GM, Toyota) have the Blue Oval looking for new product. Thus it's no surprise that Ford of Brazil is in buyout talks with Brazilian automaker Troller Veiculos Especias, Reuters reported Friday.
Man, I wish I spoke Portuguese. There's news out recently that Ford Brazil is looking to buy Brazilian automaker Troller Veiculos Especiais SA, which makes two models of off road vehicles, the Jeep-like T4 and the Pantanal truck. Hearing this, and knowing Brazil's ethanol-happy auto market, I thought I'd try and see if this buyout might be an under-the-radar way for Ford to boost its E85 plans in America. No such luck.