Report: Mulally wants to bring Ford Ka to U.S.; other execs opposed

CEO Alan Mulally is keen to bring the Ford Ka sub-compact hatchback to the U.S. market, but so far he doesn't have the support of other top executives. Mulally is no stranger to conversional decisions -- he boldly revived the Taurus nameplate after taking the helm at Ford -- but so far he's watching and waiting when it comes to the Ka.

Global product chief Derrick Kuzak and chief marketing officer James Farley are said to be opposed to importing the tiny vehicle to America. The two executives "get suspiciously quiet, and you can almost see their eyes roll" when the subject comes up, notes BusinessWeek's David Kiley. "Kuzak even smirks over it."

But that doesn't mean Mulally won't eventually go with his gut feeling on the Ka. He'll just have to come up with the business case, which, right now, isn't very appealing. Federalizing the vehicle would be expensive, and it could be hard to reach U.S. safety and emissions standards without significant investment. Pricing the car for a profit might also put it outside the reach of consumers who would actually want it.

Ford introduced a redesigned Ka in August. The new model was co-developed with Fiat and rides on the same architecture as the Fiat 500. It achieves 55 mpg and takes 13 seconds to hit 60 mph. Power comes from a 1.2-liter engine producing 67 horsepower. A 100 hp 1.4-liter motor found in the Fiat Cinquecento is optional. If sold in America, the Ka would be the second-smallest vehicle on the market.