Ford has been very upbeat about the India growth story. The company has invested about $2 billion in India. First it was the expansion of its plant in Chennai, and now the recently announced Gujarat plant. Ford is betting big on the Asia Pacific segment for growth. “Ford is bringing more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to its Asia Pacific and Africa region by mid-decade. Sixty to seventy percent of Ford’s growth is expected to come from this region over the next ten years”, said a company statement during the Gujarat plant announcement.
Michael Boneham, the company’s India MD has also announced that the company plans to launch as many as right new products in the Indian market by mid-2014. We always believed that these eight products would be an eclectic mix of sedans, big hatches and SUVs to have all the segments covered for the Blue Oval in the Indian Market.
However, in a statement made during the recent announcement at Gujarat, Ford’s Asia Pacific President Mr Joe Hinrich suggested that such might not be the case. Making strategies is all good, but to not be able to adapt those strategies keeping in view the market trends and response to your own products can never be considered smart. Seems like Ford India have realized that for now it won’t pay much to strengthen presence in the premium segment, and have tweaked their strategy to bolster their presence in the small car market only.
“Most of our eight products planned for launch by mid-decade would be in the Figo’s range as seventy per cent of car sales in India come from the small car segment”, said Mr Joe Hinrich. This hints at Ford India planning more small cars for the Indian market in addition to the Figo.
There has been no official word from Ford about what these new small cars will be. However, our earlier interactions with the Ford officials and our understanding of this market, leaves us with a few options to ponder on.
The Ford Start Concept
To start with, we strongly think that a car model based on the Ford Start concept is destined for India. On having asked the question specifically to Ford officials on earlier occasions, the answer has never been a straight denial. They have instead hinted that a model based on the Start Concept may be a possibility.
Then there are talks of a Figo based sedan. And why not? When every other carmaker is making its hatchback spawn a boot, why would Ford lag behind. It’s a rather easy way of developing a new model, and helps an automaker pass on the costs saved on developing a grounds-up model to the customer. It makes terrific sense, especially for our market.
Apart from the two, some murmurs have been heard about Ford mulling a sub-Figo car too, to compete with the Santros and the Altos of the word. Still early days more info, but some brainstorming has been happening on the topic at the Blue Oval for sure.
All said, it’s evident that the Figo Euphoria will not last forever, and Ford India will eventually have to roll out more models in the volumes segment if they have to show consistent growth. And all of us know where the numbers are in this Indian market, don’t we?