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‘The killing-off of the Ford Fiesta shows the contempt car makers have for loyal customers’

Mike Rutherford thinks loyalty is a foreign concept to most big businesses

Ford Fiesta opinion

Being a fiercely loyal buyer who never strays from the traditional firms you’ve always done business with is great for them and their fat profits.

But is your devotion the best thing for you and your finances? I doubt it. Rarely do businesses acknowledge, appreciate and reciprocate loyalty.

The big banks perfectly prove the point. They’re closing many of their High Street branches and ATM machines. And in doing so, they have nothing but contempt for account holders who’ve stuck with them for years, sometimes decades.

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And when was the last time a car insurer, vehicle manufacturer, new-car showroom, garage workshop, oil giant or public charging company properly thanked you or, better still, offered you a meaningful loyalty bonus? For regular buyers who remain staunchly devoted to certain sellers of products and services, sliding-scale percentage discounts should surely be obligatory, right?

Sadly, a very different type of contempt for loyal customers has just been shown by Ford. After producing and expecting devotees to buy Fiestas for the last 47 years, the legendary supermini has been prematurely killed off. So what small Ford should you buy instead? A larger model costing thousands more! So, if you’ve got any sense, you’ll go for a Fiesta-sized and priced Volkswagen Polo.

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It’s for these and other reasons that Ford recently lost its decades-old title of best-selling car firm in Britain – replaced by VW.

But a further bizarre twist in the Fiesta RIP saga and related battle between Ford and Volkswagen is that the German firm may yet prove to be the surrogate daddy of a reborn pure-electric Fiesta. This it may achieve by effectively allowing Ford to bolt an all-new Fiesta body onto a VW ID.1 platform. Discussions between the companies on the possible arranged birth of a Fiesta EV are said to be “constructive and positive”.   

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Similarly, Aston Martin is an EV novice, but Lucid isn’t, so the US firm is supplying powertrains and batteries in a deal that includes cash plus an almost four per cent stake in AM. The first ‘Aston Lucid’ – or maybe ‘Lucid Martin’ – is due in 2025/26.

And while Audi has built EVs for years, they haven’t sold well. Which is why it’s now in talks to purchase from SAIC – the Chinese state-owned vehicle manufacturer – IM, one of SAIC’s EV divisions. Audi believes it needs it in order to raise its own EV game. Who’d have thought it, eh – a company from China being brought in to assist, possibly rescue, the interests of one of Germany’s most prestigious marques?

It’s been a fascinating month in which Ford has canoodled with arch-rival VW; Aston climbed into bed with Lucid; and Audi wooed its little-known IM sweetheart.

These are just a few examples of how the car game is currently changing so much and so fast. And you’d be wise to change with it. Your fierce loyalty to certain long-established brands, models and vehicle-producing nations is a financially unhealthy habit that you really need to break. Be loyal to you and your wallet, not them.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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