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dna exclusive: Ford unveils Figo-sized car named 'the Ka'

Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 8:10am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Ford has just revealed what it says is the way to ‘Go Further’, especially if it wants to tap the growing car markets of South Asia, including India, and South America.

At its recent conclave in Barcelona, which highlighted its new ‘Go Further’ brand promise, Ford unveiled its Blue Oval, revealing an all-new Figo-sized car (pictured), curiously named the Ka Concept and said to its “small global value” offering.

“Concept” is not accurate because the Ka is almost production-ready. What’s more, the new offering is built on the Brazilian Figo rather than on the Fiat 500 floor-pan as was the case earlier.

What is intriguing is that the new car is the one which has been configured in a five-door hatchback form which is the established mantra for the mass market segments that matter in countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil.

So, while the reveal was in Barcelona, Spain (which also saw the debut of the new high-tech Mustang muscle car among others), the main markets are all elsewhere. Ford expects the global small car market to grow by 35% from 4 million units in 2012 to 6.2 million units by 2017.

And so, Ford definitely needs a small car to do battle in traditional value-based small car havens like India.

Under its “One Ford” strategy, this is the small car Ford spoke about to ‘Go Further’, especially in India. Its five-door platform clearly indicates the way forward.

Styling cues clearly blend the now-familiar Aston Martin-ish trapezoidal front grille, swept-back headlights and crisp taut bodylines that are so very much a continuation of the design theme seen on new small Fords in Europe.

However, as it has done with its EcoSport, Ford is relying on design and small doses of technology to make the product stand out while sporting (comparatively) low sticker prices to entice many to its fold.

Ford needs a modern small car in its India portfolio and soon.

The EcoSport has shown the way forward, but it is the Figo that helped its turnaround in India. The new Ka Concept could very well be badged the Figo when it appears in India and would come with a 79bhp version of the firm’s brilliant 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost motor as standard.

The Ka Concept a.k.a. the next Figo is mighty spacious than anything Ford has on offer today. And it runs its rivals very close on this front.

Ford informs that the new Figo would come with MyFord docking units for smartphones along with its ‘Sync’ smartphone-control interface. The most obvious give-away to its India-coming is what Ford says would be “best-in-class air-conditioning”.

“The Ka Concept builds on Ford’s small car expertise and success to offer the design and technology customers worldwide will be looking for over the coming years,” said Stephen Odell, Ford’s executive vice-president for Europe, West Asia and Africa at the reveal in Barcelona.

“Consumers increasingly expect to seamlessly transfer their mobile devices from home, to car, to workplace, and the Ka Concept shows how technology enabling them to do just that, will be extended to an attainable small car.”

The new Figo or the Ka Concept could be on show at Auto Expo 2014. The time-lines are also in sync with just such an eventuality. By the time of its launch (sometime in end 2015), Ford could also have localised the EcoBoost engine here in India which would help to add that affordability aspect in ample measure.

Now, let’s see how quickly and far Ford could ‘Go Further’ as it hopes to.

All about ‘Go Further’

While the phrase ‘Go Further’ is new, the meaning behind it is not, according to Elena Ford, director, global marketing, sales and service. “Go Further is something that already exists within Ford Motor Company,” she said. “It means that we’re never going to rest on our laurels.  We’re always going to go further for great products, a strong business and a better world.” This new global brand promise has been built around the tenets of the One Ford plan that Alan Mullaly set in motion when he took the helm at Ford.

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