Ford’s last two major car launches in the Indian car market have been as different as chalk and cheese. Let’s hark back to 2010, a time when Ford India launched the Figo hatchback at a killer price tag that screamed value. Needless to say, Indians lapped up the Figo, which was also the first Ford in India to feature extensive localization and affordable maintenance costs. A summer later, Ford launched the hotly anticipated all new Fiesta, at a price, that surprised people in equal measure as it did when the Figo was launched, the only difference being that the American car maker priced the Fiesta out of the market.
Make no mistake, the all new Fiesta has been a sales dud, leaving Ford India to sit back and analyse what went wrong with what is otherwise a very fine example of automotive engineering. To be fair, the Fiesta handles very well, comes with loads of class leading features and also has a frugal yet capable turbo diesel engine. Yet, it missed out that very important bit of equation that success in India requires, a value-for-money price tag. Moving on, Ford is at the cusp of yet another big product launch and this time it is in the hot and happening SUV territory.
SUVs have enjoyed stellar success in the Indian market over the past couple of summers with products like the Mahindra XUV500, the Renault Duster and most recently the Mahindra Quanto, all enjoying varying degrees of success, but success nevertheless. Come early 2013, Ford will launch the EcoSport Compact Crossover, well before the March of that year and this crossover is expected to challenge the Renault Duster. With some buzz emerging about the Ford EcoSport, all the way from India’s eastern border, the country of Nepal to be precise, we’ll get down to analyze what the EcoSport will have to offer to us.
First up, the launch of the EcoSport, which will happen in Nepal during March 2013, is expected to happen before that in India, given that the Nepal bound EcoSport will be built here and carted across. So, that gives us a launch time frame of February-March. Moving ahead, the Nepal-spec EcoSport will feature a 1 Liter EcoBoost turbo petrol engine and this very engine is expected to be offered on the Indian variants as well. Also, the EcoSport sold in Nepal will come loaded to the gills with safety equipment and features, all for a price that is below the 4 million Nepali Rupee mark.
From here on, it gets pretty interesting. Ford India also exports the all new Fiesta sedan to Nepal, and the EcoSport is based on the Ford Global B-Car platform, a platform that underpins the Fiesta as well. The top end, fully loaded variant of the all new Fiesta that’s sold in Nepal sells for a price of 3.99 Million Nepali Rupees, a smidgeon under the 4 million mark. With Ford’s Nepal distributor, Go Automobiles, indicating that the EcoSport will be priced well under 4 Million Nepali Rupees, we’ve got to reason to believe that the EcoSport will actually undercut the all new Fiesta when it comes to pricing.
Here are a few reasons why Ford India could price the EcoSport under the all new Fiesta sedan,
Renault Duster Factor:
The India-spec Duster is clocking over 5,000 units in monthly sales within just a few months of its launch. This means that Renault India have made a big impact in the market and are well entrenched. To displace the Duster, Ford needs something interesting up its sleeve and a value-pricing strategy could just be one of that. Also, since the Fiesta is smaller than the Duster, it makes sense for Ford to price its crossover competitively, in other words well under the Duster.
It also must be noted that Ford can play the value card with the EcoSport as the Duster isn’t exactly the gold standard for value pricing as it comes with moderate equipment level. Oh, and did we tell you that Renault India has quickly played out its introductory pricing trick after getting in the initial rush of orders. One big reason for the big sales of the Duster is the lack of good alternates for contemporary SUV buyers in the INR 8-10 lakh space, a space that the EcoSport can fill quite nicely
High degree of localization:
Ford India is said to be ensuring that the EcoSport comes with a high amount of local content, thus allowing a competitive price tag from word go. Crucially, the EcoSport is expected to feature a higher degree of localization than the all new Fiesta did when it was launched, another key aspect that could allow for lower pricing.
Valuable lessons learnt from the Figo and Fiesta:
The Figo’s value pricing gave Ford much success while the premium pricing of the new Fiesta saw Ford sitting on a fine car that simply isn’t selling. So, with the EcoSport, Ford could go back to the strategy that has worked wonders for it and get back onto the value-pricing brigade.
Excise Duty Exemption due to the sub-4 meter advantage:
The EcoSport measures in at under 4 meters in length and comes with a 1 Liter EcoBoost turbo petrol engine or a 1.5 Liter DuraTorq turbo diesel engine. These specifications mean that Ford is eligible to save a chunk of money by getting the EcoSport classified as a small car under the Indian government’s small car definition. All these savings should give Ford a shot in the arm when it comes to the pricing of the EcoSport.
What say, Ford India?