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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
A StreetKa named desire?
Kylie Minogue launches the Ford StreetKa
Will the StreetKa be enough to save Ford's bacon?

Ford has always had something of a problem with names.

"We're moving off the top shelf," quips a spokeswoman, referring to the UK adult magazine titles Escort and Fiesta which are the namesakes of two of Ford's best-known cars.

Ford's intense use of Car Focus Groups has produced the less than innovative names Ka and Focus, though not, as yet, Group.

StreetKa

Returning to the drawing board, Ford has decided to relaunch its successful Ka.

But in doing so, its designers have failed to sharpen their pencils.

Instead, they have grabbed hold of the rubber and whipped off the roof of the car.

In addition, the name has been tweaked up a couple of notches.

The "StreetKa" was launched at the Paris Motor Show, by the singer Kylie Minogue in a ceremony which marked her first visit to a car show.

It is sure to receive a warm welcome, even though the canvas roof has stolen the car's back seats.

The Streetka has been described as a half-price Audi TT - which should do more for its image than any number of adverts.

Cost cutting

But the philosophy of cutting back the roof also is also symbolic of Ford's wider ambitions of slicing chunks off the less visible parts of its organisation.

Ford has already announced 35,000 job cuts, one in ten of its workers.

And during the week ahead of the Paris Motor Show, in a speech at an automotive show arranged by an investment bank in New York, Ford president and chief operating officer Nick Scheele warned of more cost cuts.

"We've undertaken an intense review of all our costs and will be finding more efficiencies down the road," Mr Scheele said.

You could almost hear him sharpen the knife.

But whereas analysts generally understand Ford's need to slash costs due to its massive pension liabilities, high marketing costs and a tough competitive environment, particularly in the US, they are also concerned about Ford's ageing models.

And it is clear that the StreetKa, however bold a statement it is, will do little to change that.


Cars and strategies

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