Customers seeking more versatile vehicles with better fuel economy are finding what they’re looking for in hatchbacks and U.S. sales of these popular five-door cars continues to skyrocket.

It’s a trend reflected in sales of two of Ford’s hottest-selling cars. Approximately 50 percent of retail sales of the 2011 Fiesta have been for hatchbacks. On the market for just a few months, 41 percent of retail sales for the all-new 2012 Focus have been for the hatchback – a number Ford expects to continue rising.

“The hatchback is hitting an unmet need for versatility as people continue to downsize their vehicles,” said Paul Russell, Focus brand manager. “No other competitor in the top-five of total market share offers a hatchback option in the small car segment.”

The total number of hatchbacks available in the U.S. market increased 63 percent between model years 2006 and 2010, going from 291,853 to 475,048, according to Ward’s Auto World data.

“American car buyers have become appreciative of the convenience and flexibility that hatchback bodystyles offer after years of owning SUVs and crossovers,” said George Pipas, Ford sales analyst. “Combined with the generation of younger drivers who have been exposed to popular high-performance hatchback offerings in Europe and Asia, we may be seeing the beginning of a shift in buyer acceptance of hatchbacks.”

Unsure of how the market would react to new hatchback offerings, Ford prepared itself by investing in flexible plant capacity. This flexibility ensures Ford is able to react quickly to changing tastes, providing a vehicle mix – hatchback or sedan, base model or fully loaded Titanium – to serve varied customer demands.

Hatchbacks for space and fuel efficiency
Today’s hatchbacks offer more cargo space than sedans. The five-door Focus hatchback provides an additional 10.6 cubic feet compared with the sedan model and features a wide cargo opening and fold-flat load floor.

The Focus delivers up to 40 mpg on the highway. Kelley Blue Book’s recommended the 2012 Focus hatchback as a ride that’s fit for students who long for the open road, due in part to the extra cargo room afforded by the hatchback design.

The five-door Fiesta hatchback also brings additional cargo room to the table, providing 15.4 cubic feet of space.

“Our fun, vibrant Fiesta customers like the versatility of the hatchback’s access to cargo both inside and outside the vehicle,” said Sherryl Brightwell, Fiesta brand manager. “The additional square footage allows the on-the-go customer the ability to maximize cargo space when needed.”

The hatchback Fiesta is styled to have a “sporty, Euro-racing” feel, along with impressive fuel economy that delivers up to 40 mpg.

Hatchbacks for style and technology
Ford Fiesta and Focus hatchbacks offer more than additional space.

The all-new 2012 Ford Focus redefines the small car category with impressive fuel economy, distinctive design and strong driving dynamics. Focus offers class-exclusive technologies and first-to-market features such as hands-free SYNC®, MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology, push-button start, six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, heated and leather-trimmed seats and active park assist.

The Fiesta offers a vibrant, expressive design and a global track record that redefines small car expectations for customers along with 15 class-exclusive technologies and features.

The Ford Fiesta and Focus recently were named to Kelley Blue Book’s 2011 Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000 list.

Combined sales for the Fiesta and Focus in June were 26,920, up 66 percent from June 2010. Fiesta sales were 5,535 and Focus sales were 21,385, up 41 percent from the prior June – making it the best-selling Ford car of the month.