Life After 'Clunkers' for Best-Selling Cars?

A front-wheel-drive car, the Focus was introduced in 2000. The car got a refresh in the 2008 model and is currently available as a coupe or sedan. A 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with a 140 horsepower output is standard in all Focuses.

Moody said the Focus' interior is less attractive than the Corolla's.

"It doesn't feel as premium on the inside," he said. "The materials feel a little cheaper."

But like the Corolla, it's also got a mass appeal, Moody said.

"The car just happens to have the right combination of things: It's comfortable, it's inexpensive," he said. "The appeal is somewhat mass appeal because it's not super racy-looking, it's not polarizing -- which in some cases you could describe as maybe generic or boring-looking -- but I think that mass appeal with both cars helps them sell well."

Foreign vs. Domestic

In some consumers' minds, the Focus has at least one distinct advantage over the Corolla: It's made by an American company.

"There are people out there who still want to buy a domestic car and they have their reasons for doing that, whether it's the economy or jobs or they know someone down the street who works for Ford or they worked at the Ford plant," Moody said.

But a consumer in the market for an inexpensive, small car made by an American automaker will find limited options.

"They usually do better at making large trucks, minivans, sedans, and in some cases hybrids, but those are expensive," Moody said. "So the Ford Focus is really one of the best."

When Cash for Clunkers was still working its way through Congress, some lawmakers voiced opposition to the program because it was open to foreign carmakers. The fear was that overseas automakers like Toyota and Honda would best American automakers in Clunkers sales.

Those concerns have now found footing. Under the Clunkers program, four out of the top five selling cars are made by foreign companies. Of the top 10, six are made by foreign companies.

The Department of Transportation, however, offers at some statistics that might calm the critics. Of the total cars sold under Clunkers, the department said, 45 percent were made by the Big Three -- Ford, General Motors and Chrysler -- a number equal to the American companies' overall market share.

Early analysis shows that of the foreign cars, more than half were manufactured in the U.S., according to the DOT. Toyota said 90 percent of the Corollas sold in the U.S. are built at U.S. plants.

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