It has been more than 20 months since Ford launched a new model in India with the last model launch being Fiesta in 2011.
There was a 17 per cent decline in Ford India sales last year at little more than 77,000 units.
However, Joginder Singh, president and managing director, Ford India is confident that the new compact sports utility vehicle EcoSport will provide the right boost to Ford's sales in India. Singh spoke to Swaraj Baggonkar. Edited excerpts.
When do we see the launch of EcoSport?
The launch will take place next month. We are good to go with the product and manufacturing is also good to go. Validation of the product for production is also complete.
We are waiting for the 'Urban Discovery' campaign to finish which should be done by the end of this month.
In how many variants will the launch be done?
We are launching everything we have for the EcoSport at one go instead for a phase-wise launch. We will launch all the four trims together having the option of two petrol and one diesel engine.
The stand-out offering is the one-litre ecoboost petrol engine. The SUV will also be available in manual and automatic version in petrol. It will have the option of eight colours.
Is the company geared up to meet the production challenge?
Very much so, over the last several months we have spent $142 million (Rs 780 crore) to get the car ready for launch. We are not only ready for domestic market but are geared up for the export market as well.
Chennai will be the source for domestic and exports. If the demand goes through the roof, which we think it will, then we are geared up for that too.
Which price segment or competing model are you targeting for the Ecosport price positioning?
The Ford EcoSport offers a unique proposition. It is a sub-4 meter compact vehicle. We have a great value proposition at hand.
The EcoSport has about 12 Child Parts which can help save the customers on repairs and maintenance costs.
For example, the front bumper is made of three parts. So in case of a damaged bumper in the event of an accident the customer may not replace the whole bumper but the just the damaged part.
With petrol price going down and diesel going up do you see any impact on the EcoSport sales?
The market dynamics will change with the change in fuel prices. We are glad that subsidy is regularised by the government. This will be some impact on (our) sales. But there will be a power of choice to the customer.
We are also investing in flexibility. More and more we will be able to shift production between models depending on demand and respond quickly to the change.
Similarly, we have flexibility for petrol and diesel engines as both are produced on the same line.
Will exports begin right away?
My initial focus is to take the EcoSport to domestic but the factory is ready for international demand also.
Ford saw nearly 17 per cent decline last year in sales. Do you hope to have any growth this year?
There are some basic issues with the industry and Siam has pointed them out. We will continue to see challenges in the industry moving forward.
We are trying to invigorate the demand. We launched Figo with lots of activity and are following it up with the EcoSport.
I feel confident about that towards the end of the year growth is are expecting growth.
The Figo sold an average of 5,000 units last year each month, do you think the EcoSport can become the largest selling model for Ford?
The EcoSport will be a significant improvement.
Is the new plant in Gujarat on track with the scheduled investments?
Despite the issues faced by the industry our fundamental growth strategy for the country is on track. India will be the third largest auto market in the world after the China and US. We will continue to invest in the new facility and strengthen our position.