Ford is developing an affordable no-frills car in China which the company calls as the "Value B" car and it's set to hit the Chinese market by 2015. "B" refers to the segment the car is designed for.
The American giant's 'One Ford' strategy of developing only global models has its own limitations in countries like China where a country specific low cost model is a must to have a strong foothold. GM managed to outsell Ford in China because they sell cars which are being specifically developed for China like the Sail twins, compared to Ford that sells global models like the Fiesta and Focus.
Ford executives have commented that the "Value B" car will rival the 57,000 yuan (around Rs. 5.05 lakh) Chevrolet Sail, which is designed, developed and manufactured in China by GM and SIAC. However, according to the executives, Ford's low cost car will also be based on a global platform.
The Sail is currently the second best selling car in China whereas the Fiesta and Focus are not even in the top 10 in their respective segments. However, Ford strongly believes that they need not deviate from the One Ford strategy to double their market share in China which currently stands at 3%.
"The Figo in India we have done on a legacy platform out of Germany, and it's been a great vehicle for us, but you won't see us do that again because we have now our global strategy", said Mr. Joe Hinrichs, Ford's head of Asian and African operations, in an interview with Reuters.
According to Mr. Dave Schoch, who will start serving as the Ford's Asia Pacific head from Dec 1, the company plans to introduce several other low cost cars apart from the Value B. He said, "We recognize that we've played at this higher end and we have a huge opportunity to expand our segment coverage in the market."
In order the make the car affordable Ford is planning cut costs and improve margins by widening its local supplier base.
Ford has promised 8 new products for India by mid-decade which includes the already launched new Fiesta and the soon to be launched EcoSport. The "Value B" is likely to be manufactured at the Sanand plant by mid-decade and spawn a sedan variant that replaces the ageing Classic.
We will ask Mr. Michael Boneham and Mr. Joginder Singh about their thoughts on the "Value B" next time we meet them. Is this car the next generation Ford Figo meant for all global markets? We'll soon find out, stick around to IndianAutosBlog.com!