Ford Motor Company, world number two in auto-manufacturing after General Motors, is to create a new brand based on its smallest model, Ka.

Although no date has been announced for the launch of the new range, it is seen as a direct challenge to BMW’s recently relaunched Mini and DaimlerChrysler's Smart range. Assembled in Turin by specialist car designer and manufacturer Pininfarina, Ford's first model will be branded StreetKa.

Ford has also given the green light for design work for at least four additional variations on the Ka theme, among them SportsKa and a diesel version – all based, according to a Ford director, on the “vehicle architecture” of the new Ford Fiesta, due to launch this autumn. “Ka will be a sub-brand in its own right with many different models off the same basic platform," said the executive.

In addition to the Turin assembly, expected to reach around 20,000 yearly, the new range will be manufactured at Ford’s plant in Valencia Spain with annual production predicted to total 250,000.

News source: Financial Times