Ford has been sailing high on the success of the EcoSport, however, to the disappointment of many, the company is unable to keep up with the demand for the compact SUV. The waiting period for the EcoSport is as much as over 9-12 months on certain variants. Moreover, the company has had to ask certain buyers to opt for other products in the lineup instead of the EcoSport to not lose their customer base. Ford is now planning to set-up a third shift at its plant to meet the local as well as overseas demand for the SUV.
The Ford plant in Chennai will work for 24-hours under three-shifts and will be operational by the second half of 2014, a first in Ford’s 17-years of Indian existence. Currently, the company makes 350 units of the EcoSport a day in two-shifts and will increase to 450 units by June. By October the number will double up to 750-850 units per day to meet the demand in Europe and Japan, where the car is exported from the company’s plant in Chennai. This makes Ford the second company after Hyundai to operate three-shifts in the country.
Ford is also working with its vendors and suppliers to increase their capacity to meet the demand. The company says it is evaluating opportunities and removing bottlenecks to reduce the waiting period. The company delivered 35,000 units of the EcoSport by January out of the 60,000 bookings it received. The automaker plans to take its production capacity to 1,60,000 units in 2014 and eventually take the capacity to 2,00,000 units by operating the plant in three-shifts annually.
In spite of a downturn faced by the Indian automotive market, Ford has been one of the few companies that sailed through with a capable product that compelled customers to purchase. However, the company has increased the prices twice on the EcoSport since the launch and several customers had to pay Rs. 1 lakh extra, even after paying the booking amount (the prices have come down now post the excise duty reduction). Ford has been trying to maintain transparency in terms of pricing and commits that the increase was necessary. The American firm has been strengthening its after sales and service network apart from increasing its foothold in the tier 2-4 markets.
Source – Economic Times