Did you know that the Duster is the highest selling Renault car in the first five months of 2013? The Duster has changed the fortunes of Renault India, selling 5000 units on an average every month, accounting for 80% of Renault’s sales in India. The Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport are big competitors all over the world. In Brazil, the EcoSport has been outselling the Duster. Both cars are compact SUVs with a front-wheel drive layout and monocoque chassis (the Duster is also offered with 4-wheel drive in select markets but not in India). The competition between both vehicles is extremely intense. Both cars are manufactured in India with heavy localisation (the Duster is already being exported to Europe, while the EcoSport will soon be exported to Australia, South Africa and Europe).
Just looking at the styling of both vehicles, the Duster looks more SUV with its flared wheel arches and muscular body style, while the EcoSport looks more like a jacked up hatchback with aggressive design and tail gate mounted spare wheel. Ford has launched the EcoSport in India, priced so aggressively that even Renault is shocked. The EcoSport range starts at Rs. 5.59 lakhs ($ 9391), going up to Rs. 9.00 lakhs ($ 15,120). There are 10 variants across 3 engines on offer. The Duster range starts at Rs. 7.90 lakhs ($ 13,272) and goes up all the way up to Rs. 12.18 lakhs ($ 20,462). These prices are pre-registration and insurance. The price difference between the top-end Duster and top-end EcoSport is a massive Rs. 3.49 lakhs ($ 5863).
The pricing from Ford is indeed jaw dropping, even other automakers are worried as the EcoSport now becomes an alternative to sedans and hatchbacks which are offered at similar prices. Even though the Duster is priced very high, Renault doesn’t offer much equipment. The Ford EcoSport has 6 airbags, climate control, button start, keyless entry, leather seats, SYNC system over the Duster. The higher priced variants of the Duster come with a more powerful diesel engine (1.5-litre k9k diesel is offered in two states of tunes – 85 PS and 110 PS, the EcoSport’s diesel engine produces 91 PS of power).
So how does Ford price the EcoSport so aggressively? The company has taken 18 months to launch the vehicle after first showcasing it. There has been extensive localisation on the EcoSport and if you have read my review HERE, you will notice cost cutting has been done very smartly (rear bumper is black and not painted, no engine guard or engine cover is offered, etc). The EcoSport is also a sub 4-metre vehicle which means it gets crucial excise duty benefits. While Renault pays 24% duty on the Duster, Ford only pays 12% (on all models except the one powered by the 1.5-litre petrol engine, i.e. the starting two petrol variants and Automatic variant).
Now Renault will have to respond with a price cut otherwise the EcoSport is sure to run away leaving the French automaker in dust. A quick visit to the Ford dealer tells the story. There are so many people standing in a queue with ready cash (full amount too), willing to pay a premium to get the car sooner. The waiting period is already 3 months and the car was just launched yesterday.
Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the automobile industry of India.