updated 2/14/2008 6:46:54 PM ET 2008-02-14T23:46:54

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday confirmed that its new subcompact car will be called the Fiesta in markets worldwide.

Ford had said the global vehicle would be coming to market, but hadn’t revealed whether it would keep the Fiesta name or choose something new. Ford has sold 12 million Fiestas since the small car went on sale in Europe in 1976. While it’s also familiar to customers in Asia and South America, the Fiesta was only sold in the U.S. from 1978 to 1980.

The new version was designed in Europe and will go on sale there this fall in three- and five-door hatchback styles. Other versions of the Fiesta, including a four-door sedan, will be sold in North America, Asia, South Africa and Australia by 2010.

Ford plans to unveil a production-ready version of the Fiesta at the Geneva AutoShow next month.

Ford has been hinting strongly at the design of the new global car with its sporty, aerodynamic Ford Verve concept, which debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007 and also has been seen at shows in China and the U.S.

The new Fiesta is the first product to come out of Ford’s new global development program, which aims to make global models tailored to regional tastes but with the same platform

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said last month that a substantial number of the company’s models will be built on the same platforms by 2010, saving the company billions in development and manufacturing.

“With the all-new Fiesta, we want to create a world standard for small car quality, design and comfort in a vehicle that is as exciting to drive as it is to look at,” Mulally said. “We believe this all-new model will attract a whole new generation of small car buyers.”

Subcompacts already command about one-quarter of the European market. While they still make up less than 5 percent of the U.S. market, the subcompact segment is one of the fastest growing in the U.S., with sales up 20 percent last year.

In Europe, the new Fiesta will be built at Ford plants in Cologne, Germany, and Valencia, Spain. The European version will have five powertrain options, including two diesels, and new features such as air bags for the driver’s knees and a capless refueling system.

Ford is not yet saying where it will build the Asian and North American versions.

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