The big mystery to the executives at Ford and GM are not so much a mystery to the average consumer here in the heartland of America. It comes down to who makes a better car? How long can a certain vehicle last before it starts breaking down? What cars are more dependable, more reliable? These are the questions Ford and GM need to start asking their selves if they wish to remain a household name into the future. Let's start with Ford and explore the many wasted opportunities they had a producing a better vehicle. Back when there were only the "Big Three" here in America, things like fuel economy, long term reliability, and dependability were not words in the vocabulary of those that made the important decisions for these companies. And the result was exactly that. A car that ranked poorly in all of the aforementioned categories. Keeping this somewhat condensed, along came competition in the form of Japanese imports. Imports that far exceeded their domestic competition. Ford took the path of discovering that they could not make a better product, so instead, using their enormous wealth and clout, began to buy into their competition. With that goal in mind, Ford now owns or controls several auto makers, including Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin. All of which are renown for making a vehicle that better suits the needs of its consumers. Consumers who choose Mazda want a vehicle that is going to get excellent fuel economy and lasting dependability. Volvo, known as being a little boxy in shape but for those demanding a higher level of safety for themselves and family, look to its product line. Ford has blown opportunity after opportunity when after realizing it owns these companies, has actually designed many using its counterparts, only to pull the plug on such excellent rebadged vehicles. Take for instance the Ford Festiva. Manufactured between 1989 and 1993, this little two-door hatch back was essentially a Mazda with a Ford label on it. Supplying the Festiva with the Mazda designed 1.3 liter over head cam engine and all Mazda drive line and transmission parts, this little Ford got close to 50 mpg when used with the manual transmission. And guess what? The American consumer looking for an affordable, high fuel economy vehicle snapped up millions of these little cars. I know, because I bought one. I bought one because I did my homework and was impressed that Ford actually used Mazda motors and parts in this particular vehicle. After 1993, Ford dropped the Festiva, not for lack of sales, but in my opinion, because it was too good. I still own mine and after 300,000 miles on it and a bit of rust on it too now, the most expensive part I had to replace thus far was the clutch. And that Mazda clutch lasted me over 165,000 miles. Not too bad. Although I no longer pull close to 50 mpg like I once did, I still receive a decent economy in the low 40's. Again, not too bad indeed. As far as my Mazda engine, hiding neatly under the slightly rusted hood, burns no oil. Slight leakage from the original head gasket but that is typical of any engine with that many miles on it. As a consumer, looking for a low budget, low payment, affordable, high fuel economy, dependable little car, I am absolutely pleased with my decision to purchase this Ford. But where is this kind of affordable, fuel efficient car today in Ford's line up? It isn't. Even the Ford Focus doesn't come close. So the consumer is forced to look elsewhere for a vehicle. And in doing so, Ford loses.