Ford India today delivered its one-millionth car in India in New Delhi, marking a major milestone for the company. The car bearing the 10 lakh number was a Ford Freestyle petrol and the customer was chosen randomly and not through any draw. The Freestyle was launched recently by the company to plug the gap between the Figo hatchback and EcoSport sub-compact SUV. At the occasion, Anurag Mehrotra, Managing Director, Ford India, talked about the journey to a million cars and the company's future plans.
Talking about the most successful cars within these one million cars sold, Anurag unsurprisingly mentioned the Figo hatchback, which across its previous and present generation is the company's highest selling model. The old Figo was an instant success, primarily due to its impressive ride & handling and a spacious cabin. The car hit a great balance between a fun dynamics and everyday practicality, which made it popular among enthusiasts as well as family-oriented buyers.
The new Figo tried to build further on these qualities but couldn't repeat the success of its predecessor. This was primarily due to the fact that the new Figo had more competition and was caught out between the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Grand i10. More importantly, by the time this model was released, a new premium hatchback segment including the likes of the Hyundai Elite i20 and the Maruti Suzuki Baleno had gained popularity and changed the market dynamics. That said, a facelift version of the Figo and its sedan version, the Aspire are under development, with the latter set to hit the Indian market before the festival season.
The second-highest selling vehicle for Ford India is the EcoSport, which again was a runaway success from the time of its launch. The sub-compact SUV kickstarted an entirely new segment, which other carmakers have been following up since then. The EcoSport's first-mover advantage combined with the popularity of SUVs meant the demand for it remained high for a long time. EcoSport lost the top spot later to the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza but continued to sell in respectable numbers. Last year, Ford India launched the much-awaited new EcoSport with a brand new petrol powertrain and an infotainment system that continues to remain unparalleled in its price-segment. While the EcoSport wasn't able to take the lead back from the Vitara Brezza, overall sales went up on account of the new features and its competitive pricing.
The other two successful models include the Ford Ikon and the Ford Fiesta, which are no longer on sale today in India. The Fiesta was a hot-seller primarily in its earlier avatar. The second-gen Fiesta, though was unable to make an impression on the market due to its high-pricing and availability of more features from the competition.
Upcoming Models & Strategy
Apart from the new Aspire sub-compact sedan and the Figo hatchback, Ford India will continue to centre its focus in the UV space. The segment is growing at a healthy pace and Ford is looking at newer products with more development inputs from their Indian engineering team. Anurag declined to share any more details regarding these products. However, he added that these vehicles will have a higher localisation percentage, which is already up to 85 % for most of its mainstream models.
The company's collaboration with Mahindra is also a popular topic of discussion but terms of it are still being drawn. Broadly though, the agreement covers two SUVs, electric vehicle technology and powertrain technology. Details about these vehicles and the retail distribution methods will be revealed in times to come.
The company is also working on streamlining its operations and is aiming for more common parts across models, a practice already popular among many carmakers in India. This should lower the development costs, thereby increasing the profitability of the company.
Surely, the road ahead for Ford India seems packed with action and that is great news for consumers. More choices, better features and competition between carmakers is what drives the market at the end of the day.