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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Time to say goodbye: Ford Fiesta comes to an end after 47 years

Introduction of the sixth generation in 2008 represented a turning point for the Fiesta, especially in South Africa.

Spanning seven generations and estimated global sales of 22-million units, the final Ford Fiesta officially left the Blue Oval’s Cologne Plant in Germany today (7 July) after a production run of 47 years.

Confirming an announcement made in October last year, the departure of the Fiesta comes in response to Ford’s electrification switch by 2030 in which the Cologne facility will effectively become a key EV production site for Ford of Europe.

Change to EV

One the only facilities to have produced all seven generations of Fiesta since 1976, the plant will reportedly be retooled to produce the Explorer EV unveiled earlier this year, based on Volkswagen’s dedicated MEB platform as part of Dearborn’s partnership with Wolfsburg.

ALSO READ: Ford Fiesta coming to a permanent end in 2023

“There comes the point where we need the space for construction, because we are turning the Fiesta plant into a fully battery-electric plant. This is why we had to make a decision that we have to stop Fiesta production,” Ford of Europe’s General Manager, Martin Sander, told Britian’s Autocar in December last year.

Ironically a route one of the Fiesta’s long-time rivals, the Volkswagen Polo will also go on next year, the indirect replacement will come in the shape of an electric version of the Puma SUV that it in combustion form, is made at the Craiova Plant in Romania that also manufactured the EcoSport for Europe.

Bravo Fiesta!

In development since the early 1970s under the name Project Bobcat, which reportedly came with a budget of $1-billion according to Autocar, the Fiesta not only debuted as one of Ford’s first mass-produced front-wheel-drive models, but also its debutant supermini positioned below the Escort.

Initially tipped to be called Bravo following a public vote on a list of names comprising Fiesta, Amigo, Metro and ironically Sierra, Ford’s then Chairman, Henry Ford II, famously overrode the winning name by opting to call the newcomer Fiesta.

Ford Fiesta says goodbye after 47 years
Six of the ultimately seven generations of Fiesta celebrating the nameplate’s 40th anniversary seven years ago. Image: Ford

Incidentally, all of the candidate names went on to feature on models from other marques; the Bravo by Fiat and Mazda for the B-Series bakkie in Australia, Amigo by Isuzu for an SUV better known in South Africa as the Frontier, and Metro by British Leyland and the later Austin Rover Group for its Fiesta-rivalling supermini that lasted from 1980 to 1998 as the Rover 100.

Ford Fiesta says goodbye after 47 years
Project Bobcat resulted in the first generation Fiesta in 1976. Image: favcars.com

A seminal success in the UK where it ranked at the country’s best-selling car from 2009 to 2020, the Fiesta’s departure will be followed in 2025 by the Focus, again as a result of Ford’s move towards electrification and need of the Saarlouis factory to produce future EVs.

Despite being dethroned by the Vauxhall (Opel) Corsa as the UK’s best-selling car, the Fiesta has remained in the top 10 throughout 2023 so far, although this will change heading into the second half of the year.

Fiesta in South Africa

Ford Fiesta says goodbye after 47 years
Fourth generation Fiesta started the model’s run in South Africa in 1997. Image: favcars.com.

In South Africa, the Fiesta only become available from the fourth generation in 1997 assembled at the Silverton Plant outside Pretoria, and powered by the 1.3 and later 1.6-litre Rocam engines made at the Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth, now Gqeberha.

Ford waves goodbye to Fiesta
Sixth generation Fiesta signalled a turnover for the model in South Africa. Image: favcars.com

Since then, every generation of Fiesta has been marketed locally, a run that came to an end in March last year after Ford confirmed that it had decided against bringing the facelift seventh generation to market.

Ford Fiesta says goodbye after 47 years
Second generation Fiesta ST has become a cult icon in South Africa. Image: Ford

A sales success in South Africa, if not on the same level as the UK, the Fiesta would ultimately become the closest rival to the Polo, whose sales and production run will continue after 2025 in contrast to Europe that will receive the all-electric ID.2all.

Ford waves goodbye to Fiesta
Seventh generation Fiesta would ultimately be the last. Image: Ford.

As such, a direct replacement for the model that led to the creation of the still hugely popular ST variant over three generations, is unlikely to happen with Ford itself still not commenting on rumours of possibly making the Puma available for South Africa.

NOW READ: Plug pulled on Ford Fiesta in South Africa, Figo to follow

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