Editorial: Ford Is At Risk Of Missing The B-CUV Boat

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
editorial ford is at risk of missing the b cuv boat

Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade. Honda HR-V. Mazda CX-3. Nissan Juke. Fiat 500X. There’s little doubt that the B-segment crossover is about to explode in North America. So, where is Ford in all of this?

Ford markets the Ecosport in a number of world markets, from Brazil to Europe to India, as a smaller CUV that slots under the Kuga (which is our Escape in world markets). One would assume that given the “One Ford” program that is supposed to harmonize vehicles for sale across different markets, the Ecosport could quickly and easily be brought up to spec, both in terms of regulatory compliance and the level of content that North American buyers expect.

Only Ford planners know the real answer, but two immediate hurdles stand out. First off, the 1.0L 3-cylinder Ecoboost is the main powertrain in many markets. This may suffice in the BRIC countries and other markets where displacement-based taxation make big engines a burden, but North Americans would need something more powerful and more refined. The lack of an automatic option in our market doesn’t help either.

Ford would also have to find a suitable manufacturing location for the car. Since this is a fairly low-margin product, Mexico would likely be the only NAFTA country that would allow for profitable manufacturing of the Ecosport. Otherwise, it’s got to be imported from India, Brazil or Thailand, and that means shipping costs and potential tariffs, even though labor costs will be much lower.

The next-generation Fiesta is said to be coming from factories in Thailand, so perhaps that will give Ford a chance to bring the Ecosport over here. Given that the Escape is one of the top players in the compact SUV space, bringing over the Ecosport seems like the right move for Ford – assuming the numbers make sense.

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  • George B George B on Dec 15, 2014

    Derek, how does Ford make money selling a B segment CUV in the US? Not Mini or Fiat, but Ford. Ford's customers have been trained for decades to expect that smaller vehicles have a smaller price tag. No matter how much development cost Ford throws at that market segment, the end product will be a small Ford with a small price tag and small sales numbers. What US Ford customers are saying that the Focus based Escape is too big? In the past there was a CAFE incentive to build small vehicles at a loss, but current CAFE standards adjust the requirement based on footprint.

    • See 3 previous
    • Lie2me Lie2me on Dec 17, 2014

      @Lou_BC This is exactly what naysayers said when Ford came out with the Edge and slotted it between the Escape and the Explorer. They claimed the Edge would do nothing but steal sales from the other two. They were wrong, sales of all three have been excellent. Going by Ford's own successes they should see no issue in slotting another CUV below the Escape

  • Dolorean Dolorean on Dec 16, 2014

    Derek, what's stopping Ford from bringing over the highly susccessful B-Max, C-Max, and S-Max here in Europe to the States? I'm assuming it's money, but the development costs should be over and done with and you'd have the range covered.

    • Bball40dtw Bball40dtw on Dec 16, 2014

      We have the C-Max, but only as a hybrid. Ford already has trouble selling the Fiesta or C-Max in the US, so why would they try the B-Max? The reason why we aren't going to get those other people carriers, including the Galaxy, is because of Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex. I would buy an S-Max, but what would it cost? $40K for the diesel version? Well, Ford has the Explorer Sport/Titanium and the Flex Ecoboost for that same price, they do the same thing, and they have 355 HP with AWD. Try selling a 2.2L diesel S-Max next to a cheaper Explorer Sport. Americans won't buy it, and they shouldn't. Maybe we'll see the S-Max or Galaxy once the Explorer moves to a RWD platform and the Flex dies. I'm not optimistic about it though.

  • Buickman the only fire should be in the board room.they just hired an executive from Whirlpool.that should help them go do the drain.
  • Mike Beranek I don't care about the vehicles. But I'd be on board for inspecting the drivers.
  • Art Vandelay Coming to a rental lot near you. And when it does know there is a good chance EBFlex and Tassos have puffed each other's peters in it!
  • Art Vandelay I doubt there is even room for EBFlex and Tassos to puff each other's peters in that POS
  • Art Vandelay The lack of side windows is a boon for EBFlex and Tassos as nobody can see them puffing each other's peters back there!