Ford’s Brazilian-Born Ka Concept Could Make Some BRIC-Market Ka-Ching

Ford Ka concept

There’s an old song that opines “they’ve got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil,” but there’s a lot of automobile production taking place down there, too—almost 3.5 million vehicles roll off Brazilian assembly lines each year. (That’s more than are assembled in France.) Ford has been doing business in Brazil for nearly a century and the country has one of the automaker’s six largest R&D centers. So it should come as no big surprise to find Bill Ford in the Brazilian state of Bahia, at the company’s Camaçari complex to unveil the locally developed Ka concept. Not to be confused with Ford’s European-market Fiat-based Ka, this compact five-door hatchback is aimed at Brazil and others in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) markets.

Take one look and there’s no mistaking this is a Ford, what with its Aston-lookalike grille. It’s a handsome machine in a market that has often featured cast-off, cheap-looking shapes. Ford claims this Ka will hold five, feature fuel economy that will be best in class, and could be on the market as early as next year. There’s no mention of powertrain specifics yet, although the brand’s 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost—now available in U.S.-market Fiestas—would be a logical choice, as would a manual transmission.

Don’t expect to see the Ka on U.S. dealer lots. Take an average B-segment vehicle and subtract 10 inches in overall length, two inches in height, and an inch and a half in wheelbase, and you’re left with the shell of the Ka concept, or the dimensions of a sub-B segment. It might share some basic architecture with a corporate B-segment design, but don’t expect that level of sophistication. It’s tough to make a buck in the sub-B segment, so things like the rear suspension likely are a bit less complex and interior materials probably take a step back in quality. Navigation systems are expensive, so it would make sense for Ford to do without, but offer a docking station that can allow for the task to be done by smartphones.

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Is it worth the effort? Ford claims the sub-B segment is projected to grow by 35 percent come 2017, to 6.2 million vehicles annually. That’s a lot of Kas to be sold, and an awful lot of ka-ching to be made.

Ford Ka concept

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