At the 400,000th engine rollout milestone at the Chennai plant this afternoon, Ford India was a bit more vocal about its next big launch, the second of the eight products it has promised by mid-decade.
Ford India's President Michael Boneham revealed that the EcoSport mini SUV will be launched with both petrol and diesel options, busting myths that the EcoSport is a petrol-only SUV. Both variants will be available from the time of launch which is early 2013.
Indian Autos Blog readers have already seen our reader spyshot showing the EcoSport testing with the Duratorq badge.
Ford EcoSport exports planned
He added that Ford India will also export the EcoSport like it does with the Figo. The vehicles are destined to markets in the Asia Pacific and African regions. The exports could kick off once Ford has understood the gravity of the situation with respect to the domestic demand. This is the same scene prevailing at Renault India's camp, with the launch of the Duster, which goes to the UK market for a January 2013 launch.
Renault officials have not listed the markets on the Duster's radar, but sounded optimistic about its chances in South Africa and RHD markets within Asia.
EcoSport will be priced competitively; Don't draw connections with the Brazilian model' prices
Boneham told Indian Autos Blog that Ford will "price the EcoSport competitively," but we got a sense while touring the engine plant that the 1L Ecoboost petrol engine will not be locally manufactured, at least in the initial stages, which signifies that localization will be scaled up over time. He's aware of the the Brazilian model's prices (revealed last week), stressing that it has no bearing on the Indian prices due to the varying tax structures. The EcoSport is a sub-4 meter SUV that will qualify as a small car in India.
Boneham refused to divulge any information on the type of diesel engine under the EcoSport's bonnet. If it was the same 1.5-liter diesel (running a different calibration) used on the Fiesta, common sense screams out that he would have not have held that information back. Globally there are no new diesel engines to talk about for this product class or segment. Boneham said he would speak about the diesel engine during the product launch.
Ford India are not in segments that are growing and the EcoSport will give a launch pad to fix that. The excitement is obvious in the management's interactions.