The two products that will change Ford India's fortunes on the long run
Praveen M, Engineer-turned-motorcycle journalist. I'm a sucker for cruising down the highways, and twisties in the hills.
Ford is working on a slew of launches in all product categories. A Ford India top management member told Indian Autos Blog last year that many of the 8 products destined for India are hatchbacks. By that we're sure he meant it was small cars like the Figo and the EcoSport.
In the next two years Ford India's second manufacturing facility at Sanand, Gujarat comes online making hugely localized cars and exporting them throughout the world. Indian Autos Blog believes there are two products that will come out of this plant that will not only change Ford's baseline in the entry-level segment around the world, but here in India too.
Model 1 - New global entry-level car
Ford has started working on a car smaller than the Fiesta that will replace the KA in Europe and South America. Ford sells the previous generation KA in South America with cosmetic upgrades while the European version is based on the Fiat 500 platform produced at Fiat's manufacturing plant in Poland.
The all-new KA, rumored to be developed on the Fiesta platform (code - B462), is likely to replace the two versions of the KA and run alongside the Figo in India. Ford is believed to be using the Start Concept shown two years ago in China (pictured) as a design reference for the vehicle.
The powertrain lineup can be formed by using a less powerful 1-liter turbo petrol engine and by stretching the 1.5-liter diesel engine's availability to the new KA. The global model is the answer to the new lot of superminis comprising of the Honda Brio, Maruti Swift, Nissan Micra and Toyota Liva.
Model 2 - Compact sedan on the B-Platform
Ford engineers are also believed to be working on a compact sedan top hat for the B-Platform. Maruti, Toyota and Tata Motors have used the strategy of pasting a boot to their hatchbacks to make affordable sedans that sell like hot cakes. The companies that have used the same strategy and have seen it work in India recently are Toyota and Volkswagen.
Ford used the same recipe to good effect with the Fiesta and Focus variants in Europe. The new Ka siblings then promise to mount a tough challenge for the Swift and Etios twins. In the next two years, GM will see off the Sail twins and the Brio is due to receive a booted cousin next year, leaving very less room for Ford to make errors.
If the car's length is restricted to under four meters, Ford maybe just be able to price the sedan aggressively. Like its peers, Ford may use the same pair of engines installed on the hatchback and pick out most other components from the same parts bin.
The sedan built on the KA underpinning is expected to replace the aging Fiesta Classic by the middle of the decade.