Reader Feeback - Why is the Ford Fiesta not doing well?
Shoeb Kalania, An Automobile Engineer by qualification and an automobile designer by passion, I am here with IndianAutosBlog to live my passion and do so by providing you with renderings and sketches of future vehicles.
A couple of weeks back, we asked our readers on IAB’s Facebook page why the Ford Fiesta isn't selling well. New launches such as the Skoda Rapid and Nissan Sunny in this segment have led from the front and become star performers for their respective brands, while the Fiesta, a celebrated nameplate globally in the B Segment, has been underperforming, shifting between 200-300 units a month in 2012.
We have put together all the factors cited by our FB fans on why the Indian consumer moved away from the Fiesta and looked for other options.
Another good observation we are able to make is that every comment was meaningful and added value. We may not have 100,000 FB fans, but the fans we have, and those who engage with us regularly, are very knowledgeable and know their cars. You should go see for yourself at IAB's Facebook Page!
Ford has to make sure they get their pricing right from Day One. Launching a vehicle at a high price point just makes consumers turn away. When a competitor’s product is more attractive and offers similar level of equipment at a lower price, the consumer is bound to go for them unless you have a significant brand edge.
Discounting the price within a short period has positive and negative effects. Firstly, it reduces the resale value of the previously sold vehicles and currently Ford doesn’t command a good resale price in the used car market, which isn't helping matters. Another reason is that this creates a doubt on the customer’s mind about the status or health of the product. It might also create an illusion that the company wants to get rid of the stocks available and hence the reduction in prices.
The design of the Fiesta is liked all across the globe (with over 15 million copies sold in 35 years, this is an icon in the motoring industry) but much of success is attributed to the hatchback version. Despite not launching in India, the Fiesta hatchback has a fan following in India. We received hundreds of thousands of comments, tweets, FB messages and emails over the last 18 months inquiring about the launch of the hatchback.
The sedan on the other derived from this hatch loses some of that hotness. While the front end design looks good, the rear end feels lost and is a "last minute addition", according to user comments.
The design language changes when you move from the front to the rear of the car. The rear is too 'bubbly' compared to the front. The inclusion of some sharp lines could have done the trick here. Though individual tastes vary, the major percentage of answers suggested the look of the rear was unappealing and made them walk away.
We would love to see Ford bring in the facelifted version, which looks more upmarket. After all, the inspiration is from Aston-Martin, with a gorgeously resculpted front-end. The rear appears to be reworked on the sedan (courtesy of spyshots) and taillamps may be equipped with LED lights. The designers could make the tail lamp symmetric; having a reverse light in only one side and not in the other is an eye sore that should be addressed.
The interior design of the Fiesta is sporty, and this is widely acknowledged. A few readers did complain about the use of materials or colors that did not give a sense of being a premium product. Ford has to understand the mindset of the Indian consumer and work upon improving the experience. They must try out different color combinations that has premiered on the 2013 Fiesta.
The 2013 Fiesta’s interior seems to have addressed these problems.
The Fiesta is said to be a great driver’s car, its "simply brilliant" according to our FB fans. The handling of the car is sorted out perfectly but can that alone help the car sell? Most customers won’t even be driving the car and would love to enjoy the backseat comfort, which isn't the Fiesta's forte. Hence care has to be taken to provide better rear seating comfort as a few readers found that area to be cramped. This can be addressed with a longer wheelbase and cushy seats, but that recommendation needs complete re-engineering, which isn't possible on the current gen model.
Another reader did suggest that an EcoBoost option should be on offer, which we think is a possibility once the engine makes its debut with the EcoSport. The lack of demand for petrol engines could hamper the 1L engine' chances in India, but the dynamics can always shift in the future.
After-sales service is one department which makes the final buying decision work in or against your favour. While Ford has improved in this department by a great margin after the Figo's launch, there is still that air of it being a costly brand to maintain.
The Escort, Ikon, Mondeo and Endeavour have created a feeling of causing burn holes in the wallet of the owner every time the car visits the service centre. Thanks to localization and the 'child part' concept, recent Ford cars are less expensive to maintain. Ford India have to sell more cars and get more customer testimonials to wipe out the notion that their cars have high service costs. Over time, this can change, but Ford has to keep improving its service standards, and some complaints were heard on the quality of individual workshops.
The Ford Fiesta sedan is indeed a great car and it needs subtle adjustments to get cracking. The pricing has to be looked into, not just for this model but for the upcoming vehicles. The situation can change with the launch of the 2013 Fiesta, with a much better pricing and all the feedback from the aforementioned areas addressed.
Ford has been in India for much longer than some of its competitors but has lagged behind even with the best products in hand. Can Ford get the procuring cost, service cost, and the content and feature localization right with the EcoSport, B-Max and the next generation Ka siblings?
[Source: IAB's Facebook Page]