Ford Eyes India for Crossover Surge; Next EcoSport Doesn't Look Like a Turnoff

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford eyes india for crossover surge next ecosport doesnt look like a turnoff

By 2020, India is projected to become the world’s third-largest auto market, and it’s a market Ford Motor Company wants to dominate. The past year revealed China can’t be counted on to fill financial sails forever.

With this in mind, Ford is reportedly planning a slew of new small crossovers, and could soon put a billion dollars behind the effort.

Ford’s Indian arm is the source of America’s EcoSport subcompact crossover, and there’s good news of late about that model’s future. No, it’s not going away. However, recent spy shots reveal a replacement that all shapely curves, sharply contrasting with the toaster-shaped appliance currently serving as a CUV entry point to the increasingly carless brand.

The upcoming cash dump outlined in a Monday report in India’s Economic Times probably doesn’t target the EcoSport, not if there’s already prototypes driving around. It does, however, hint at the creation of three CUVs for the Indian and other overseas markets, each with a specific rival in its sights. The billion dollars would flow into Ford’s India operations over the next five to seven years, sources claim, with half of the dough earmarked for Ford’s Mahindra tie-up.

Ford and the Indian-market domestic automaker announced a jointly-developed C-segment crossover earlier this year, part of a collaborative effort called Project Black. The other two CUVs are B-segment offerings, much like the EcoSport. Carrying the codemanes BX744 and BX745, the first of the two new models would target Indian buyers and arrive in 2021; the latter would roll out a year later, with markets like China, India, Brazil, and other developing markets in mind.

“Beyond independently penetrating the Indian market, Ford is looking at ways and means of participating in the global emerging market in tandem with Mahindra,” a source said. “A partial [joint venture] may not be ruled out… maybe one of the plants, but exiting is definitely out of question.”

As Western auto sales stagnate, Ford is busy slashing away at its various money-losing overseas operations. India appears promising, though. Ford sales in that country rose 12 percent in 2018, with Ford India President and Managing Director Anurag Mehrotra calling it a turnaround year for the brand.

As for the EcoSport, the next-generation model is said to remain on its Fiesta underpinnings, appearing as a 2021 model. The side-hinged rear hatch bites the dust, along with the dated design.

[Image: Ford]

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  • Steve203 Steve203 on May 13, 2019

    The rumor mill about Ford in India has been in overdrive lately. From Mahindra designing 5 different SUVs for Ford, including at least two on Mahindra platforms, to Ford selling a 51% interest in it's Indian operations to Mahindra. Then add the fact that the best selling Ford in China has been the Territory, which is a rebadged Jiangling and Ford's tieup with VW in Europe. Hackett made a comment wrt Europe that offers a hint: words to the effect that Ford will not withdraw from the market, but will offer "Ford branded" vehicles. "Ford branded" indicating not necessarily Ford designed and produced vehicles, but vehicles with a blue oval pasted on them. Considering Ford's moves in India and China, badge engineering other people's products for market segments that Ford doesn't really care about, ie anything other than US-centric big SUVs and pickups, may be the Hackett grand plan.

    • See 7 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on May 13, 2019

      @Vulpine Doesn't help that Tandy Leather sold off Radio Shack, either. Tandy's still alive. Radio Shack started out as a DIY electronics shop with some house-branded products and gradually shifted over to an electronics retailer with some few DIY products remaining.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 13, 2019

    Get rid of that spare tire hanging off the back. It's not a Jeep.

    • See 5 previous
    • Steve203 Steve203 on May 13, 2019

      @Vulpine I don't understand the pushback against the spare on the tailgate. The first gen CR-V and RAV4 both had gate mounted spares, and I have seem some Land Rover SUVs with that set up. It makes a lot of sense, with the side hinged gate. But since Ford has dropped that option for 19, it's a moot point anyway.

  • BklynPete So let's get this straight: Ford hyped up the Bronco for 3 years, yet couldn't launch it to match the crazy initial demand. They released it with numerous QC issues, made hay for its greedy dealers, and burned customers in the process. After all that, they lose money on warranties. The vehicles turn out to be a worse ownership experience than the Jeep Wrangler, which hasn't been a paragon of reliability for 50 years. The same was true of the Aviator, Explorer, several F-150 variants, and other recent product launches. The Maverick is the only thing they got right. Yet this company that's been at it for 120 years. Just Brilliant. Jim Farley's non-PR speak: "You don't get to call me an idiot. I get to call myself an idiot first."Farley truly seems hapless, like the characters his late cousin played. Bill Ford is a nice guy but more than a bit slow on the uptake too. They have not had anything resembling a quality CEO since Alan Mulally turned the keys over to Mark Fields - the mulleted glamor boy who got canned after 3 years when the PowerShi(f)t transaxles exploded. He more recently helped run Hertz into the ground with bad QC and a faulty database that had them arresting customers. Ford is starting to resemble Chrysler in the mid-Seventies Sales Bank era. Well, at least VW has cash and envies Ford's distribution reach and potential profitability.
  • Mike Beranek This guy called and wants his business model back.
  • SCE to AUX The solid state battery is vaporware.As for software-limited pack capacity: Batteries are obviously the most expensive component of an EV, so on the rare occasion that pack capacity is dramatically limited (as in your 6-year-old example), it's because economies of scale briefly made sense at the time.Mfrs are not in the habit of overbuilding pack capacity just for fun, and then charging the customer less.Since then, pack capacities have been slightly increased via software because the mfr decides they can sacrifice a little bit of the normal safety/wear margin in the interest of range. We're talking single-digit percentages, not the 60/75 kWh jump in your example.Every pack has maybe 10% margin built into it, so eating into that today (via range increases) means it's not available to make up for battery degradation tomorrow. My 4-year-old EV still has its original range(s) and 100% SOH, but that's surely because it is slowly consuming the margin built into the pack.@Matt Posky: Not everything is a conspiracy to get your credit card account, and the lengthy editorial about this has nothing to do with solid state batteries.
  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?