After the success of the Figo, Ford became extremely bullish about the Indian market, announcing they will launch 8 new products by 2015. The first product was launched last year, the latest generation Fiesta, which got a PowerShift automatic version earlier this year. While details about the rest of the products remain sketchy, we can confidently say that product 2 is the EcoSport, while product 3 is mostly going to be the new Endeavour. The rest of the launches are likely to include a small car positioned below the Figo, MPV (possibly the Kuga), Focus, Mondeo and the Fiesta hatchback.
With such good products in Ford’s line-up, why did the company go slow in 2012. This year, the American automaker did not launch any new product in India. While they refreshed the Figo, re-positioned the old Fiesta as the Classic and altered pricing and variants of the new Fiesta, there was nothing substantial in terms of product launches. Ford did turn its focus on service by launching the first QuickLane centre but we feel atleast one new vehicle should have been launched this year.
The company has missed a big opportunity with the Ford EcoSport in 2012. While we all know this compact SUV will set the sales chart on fire when it is launched in February 2013, we feel Ford’s strategy went astray. Firstly the company unveiled the EcoSport at the 2012 Auto Expo and grabbed quite a few eyeballs, then they went ahead and showcased the vehicle at various locations too (including malls). Surely, that led to even more interest amongst prospective buyers, but wait a second, where is the EcoSport? It’s still not launched and will only hit showrooms 14 months after unveil!
Any person looking to buy the EcoSport is unlikely to wait 14 months for it. The campaigns run by Ford to promote the EcoSport to prospective buyers was too premature, it should have been done when the launch was just around the corner. By boldly going and unveiling the product way in advance, Ford only woke up competition and voila, within a few months we see the Chevrolet Trax and Volkswagen Taigun appear out of nowhere. Honda, Skoda, Maruti Suzuki, Fiat and Nissan are all working on their EcoSport rival. Meanwhile Renault took advantage of being the first mover, selling more Dusters last month than Ford sold Figos! Mind you, the Duster costs twice as much as the Figo.
Till now we have heard Ford make ambitious plans and announcements. It’s high time the company gets moving and becomes quick with launching new products. Ford has been present in India for quite a long time and it has only four products on offer, while car makers which entered much later have a bigger portfolio already. The new Ford Fiesta’s poor sales are a result of over zealous pricing and a price correction hasn’t helped matters either. The company needs to get its pricing spot on the very first time and hopefully the EcoSport is able to pull back the sales decline Ford witnessed this year.