CarDekho got a candid opportunity to speak to Mr. Joginder Singh, President & Managing Director of Ford India, at the launch event of Ford EcoSport compact SUV.
1. What is your view point on B+ hatchbacks, considering that the pricing of the EcoSport is directly going to affect the sales of premium hatchbacks?
Ans: We believe that with the EcoSport Ford India has created a niche segment in itself. Given the mass appeal, considering the consumer response that we have received, having unveiled it in major cities through 'Urban Discovery' campaign the EcoSport aims to catch the imagination of the youth and the executive class. Like I said in my presentation that this is a dhamaka product, therefore we do believe that in some way or the other, premium hatchback segment would see some change. Ford EcoSport is a global product, which has been designed in such a way that it fulfills the need of different people.
2. Since EcoSport is built on the same platform as the Fiesta and there is inter sharing of components, don't you think Fiesta buyers are going to be attracted to this new segment. And as you said in your presentation that EcoSport will attract the buyers of entry level sedans as well, won't it eat into the sales of Ford Classic?
Ans: Yes, Ford EcoSport is a product which will lure buyers from Hatchbacks to entry level sedans. We do believe that there are certain people who are going to be loyalist e.g. individuals fond of a good value for money entry-level sedan, would stick to Ford Classic, same is the case with the Fiesta, which is a more premium and technologically savvy product, while the Figo which draws in big numbers for us converts users to a hatchback that is user-friendly and cost-effective. At the end, Ford India is looking to provide perspective customers a wide variety of models to choose from, which includes Figo, Classic, Fiesta, EcoSport and the Ford Endeavour.
3. What all products could the Indian automobile market see in coming years from Ford India?
Ans: The bunch of products that we are planning to bring in to India will be built on global platforms, keeping the consumer aspirations in mind. So, we'll have to pick those sweet spots, where the design along with technology is going to be global, though the integration of these elements would depend on upon the local needs and preferences.
4. One key area on which you think Ford India needs to work on priority as mere selling in numbers is not enough?
Ans: You are absolutely right that you have to make sure that not only do we sell the products, but enjoy our long lasting relationship with our consumers, and we are dedicatedly working on that. We are expanding our reach to customers, particularly in tier-2 and tier-3 markets, by opening more dealerships and service centers there. We have a big strategic imperative of cost of ownership, and we have some really good examples within our portfolio. Same thing with the EcoSport, we have a very clear cost of ownership strategy, like we have designed this car with child parts, so for example you have broken the corner of a gate, you will not have to replace the whole gate, but the damaged part. So, such a strategy will reduce the cost of ownership and maintenance.
5. What are you expansion plans? How much you have invested in the EcoSport, and what kind of investments we can see from Ford India?
Ans: Of course, this is a global platform and it’s engineered in all sorts of way, so it’s very difficult to put a finger on a number because the same global platform is in China, Brazil, Thailand and soon Russia will get it, so, that’s a very difficult question to answer. But I can tell you that for our production facility, we invested 142 million dollars to make sure that Chennai was ready to make things rolling for domestic as well international markets. And this product led investment is going to continue. In addition to the 2 billion dollars invested in the factories in Chennai as well as in Sanand, Gujarat, we are more than capable of producing multi products for both domestic demands as well as international. Currently in Chennai, we have the option of producing both left and right hand drive vehicles, which makes us more than ready to handle any sort of future demands. Product innovation with international standards is going to be our core objective in future.