Ford India is gearing up for the big-bang debut of its compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) EcoSport, which it sees as a game-changer.
After a lot of speculation, Eco- Sport, the second of the eight new global models that Ford plans to launch in India, will be launched in the first half of the next fiscal, most likely by June.
Since the model was showcased at the Auto Expo in Delhi last year, there have been a host of launches in the compact SUV segment like Mahindra & Mahindra’s Quanto and Renualt’s Duster, which are selling significant numbers.
“We are not too far away now and are approaching the launch in a grand manner by creating a lot of buzz,” Sriram Padmanabhan, vice-president, marketing, Ford India, told DNA Money.
The company had earlier said it will invest around Rs784 crore in its Chennai plant to facilitate the manufacturing of EcoSport. Where most of the automakers are carefully assessing the launch of new vehicles due to a slowdown in the market, Ford is confident of the timing of EcoSport debut. Slowdown has also affected the overall sales of the company, which fell 3.17% during April-January compared to the same period last year.
Without disclosing the capacity being created for the vehicle, Padmanabhan said, “We are hoping for fairly significant volumes from EcoSport. It will be a game-changer for Ford India the way Figo was. It’s a very important product for us.”
Though the industry is not expecting a revival in car sales anytime soon, experts said new launches this year such as Honda’s Amaze and Ford EcoSport will help in growing the overall market.
“The Indian market is currently tough but on a medium- to long-term basis, it will grow. Our recent announcement of a new plant in Gujarat talks about our aspirations in India,” he said.
The sub 4-metre compact SUV segment is attracting a lot of attention from the manufacturers due to its low tax structure. “The compact SUV segment is growing significantly faster,” said Padmanabhan.
The overall utility vehicle segment grew 56.87% during April-January.
Meantime, the company is starting a pre-launch campaign for EcoSport, where 100 people will participate across 12 cities. It will very soon have EcoSport installations at major malls in Delhi and Mumbai. It is also going aggressive on all media like television, radio and digital to create a buzz around the SUV.