By on September 9, 2021

Ford

Ford appears to be pulling out of India, with the automaker confirming plans to end production there by next year. While a sizable automotive market — fifth just behind Japan, with about 2.5 million sales annually — the region never felt like a good fit for Blue Oval. Ford’s cash cows have long been upsized SUVs and pickup trucks, whereas India has an obvious penchant for small automobiles prioritizing value above all else. This left the automaker with a paltry market share estimated below two percent and likely explains why it’s no longer interested in manufacturing vehicles there.

In Thursday’s announcement, the company confessed to having accumulated operating losses of more than $2 billion over the last decade — hence the need for restructuring. But it won’t be cutting ties with India entirely, as it wants the region to handle Ford Business Solutions and help with customer support services via the relevant information centers. 

Ford also said it would continue to provide customers in India with ongoing parts, service, and warranty support. But the plan remains to end production at the Sanand plant by the fourth quarter of 2021 and stop vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022. Most of those jobs will not be replaced, though Ford suggested it might expand its 11,000-employee Business Solutions team.

The restructuring is in service of the Ford+ plan seeking to promote “growth and value creation by strengthening automotive operations and capitalizing on unprecedented opportunities in electric and connected vehicles and enhanced customer experiences.” But that’s typical industry jargon that’s just there to sound progressive. Ford wants to save money and is probably making the right call by pulling out of a market that wasn’t turning out to be all that lucrative. While we’re positive Ford is excited to launch new revenue streams related to likely predatory connected services, it has very little to do with its manufacturing sites in India.

From Ford:

Ford will focus on growing its Ford Business Solutions capabilities and team in the country, as well as engineering and engine manufacturing for export. With more than 11,000 team members currently in India, Ford Business Solutions plans to expand to provide more opportunities for software developers, data scientists, R&D engineers, and finance and accounting professionals, in support of the Ford+ plan to transform and modernize Ford globally.

More than 500 employees at the Sanand Engine plant, which produces engines for export for the best-selling Ranger pickup truck, and about 100 employees supporting parts distribution and customer service, also will continue to support Ford’s business in India.

Ford will begin importing and selling must-have, iconic vehicles, including Mustang coupe. Customers in India also will benefit longer term from the Company’s plan to invest more than $30 billion globally to deliver all-new hybrid and fully electric vehicles, such as Mustang Mach-E. Sales of current products such as Figo, Aspire, Freestyle, EcoSport and Endeavour will cease once existing dealer inventories are sold.

Roughly 4,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs due to restructuring. Ford said it would work closely with employees, unions, suppliers, dealers, government, and other stakeholders in Chennai and Sanand to develop a fair and balanced plan to mitigate the effects of its decision. The company also plans to retain parts depots in Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Sanand, and Kolkata for the time being as it attempts to get its Indian dealer network on board with swapping from sales and service to just service.

This also calls into question the fate of a few of Ford’s models, including the EcoSport. The company’s least-expensive SUV has already seen its refresh stalled due to the factory closures. According to CNET, this also means the car will be removed from the North American lineup so that the upcoming Maverick pickup can have more leeway. The crossover will reportedly see an abbreviated 2022 model year in the North American market and then it’s gone for good.

Having driven several, your author is dubious the discontinuation will receive much pushback.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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48 Comments on “Report: Ford Leaving Indian Market, Ending EcoSport Production...”


  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    As a Ford fan, I can’t think of a single person that will be upset to see the EcoSport go away. I know that’s only part of the intent of the article, but the EcoSport here in the US was about as relevant and well received as Ford as an entity seems to have been in India.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      It’s just being (indirectly) replaced with the Escape pickup. Quality that’s just as bad, unrefined, and far more money than it’s worth.

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        Small pickup based on Escape platform is promising. As entry vehicle would be great if they can get the price below twenty thousand.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        In a world where a small section of society has been literally BEGGING an auto manufacturer to bring something to the US or make something FOR the US that’s not a huge ungainly evolution of a once loved small truck (Looking at Tacoma and Ranger here), I’d say it’ll be just fine. It’ll do what its intended to do and, aside from Hyundai, be completely unchallenged in the market until it either takes off- where GM will release something like they always do (after they’re done watching to see what Ford does), and then maybe a decade later, RAM will have a version. That… or it’ll be a one hit wonder and fizzle out. Hell, we were almost perfectly OK with a damn Mahindra trucklet. MAHINDRA!! Another Indian made product that would have been absolutely miserable in every aspect other than cost, and had all the attributes of yet another orphaned marque once they discontinued it due to slow sales leaving owners holding the bag ala Saab.

        Either way, that little vehicle is just about all the truck that 85% of the truck buying public need, but they’ll never admit it. Notice I didn’t say WANT. I said NEED.

  • avatar

    -EcoSport discontinued-

    GOOD

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Better than good, it’s evidence that God exists and is benevolent.

      Then again, in the light of the whole Citation story, if this is the worst car you can buy today, maybe things aren’t so bad.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s an interesting thought, it probably is the worst car on sale in the US market today.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Looking back, what bothered me most about this car was its’ price. It didn’t drive well, but if all you needed was a cheap urban warrior, ala Venue/Kicks, I suppose it’d do. But it wasn’t priced that way – as I recall, Ford wanted $25,000 for the one I drove, which wasn’t particularly well equipped. It did have AWD, but that’s still a stiff price, particularly for something screwed together by people making a buck fifty an hour.

          The whole thing was a cynical exercise, which customers noticed.

          Glad it’s gone.

  • avatar
    96redse5sp

    Hallelujah. Why the hell were Americans ever buying that thing, anyway?

    Maybe they can just bring over a re-badged Tata Nano…

  • avatar
    Verbal

    With the EcoSport going away, will other manufacturers follow Ford’s lead and discontinue their potato cars too?

  • avatar
    Fifth87

    But…the EcoSport hacks your life!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    EcoSport dead…and there was much rejoicing.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    SO SAY WE ALL!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    So they’re going to quit making cars but still answer the phones – so cliché.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I question the wisdom of Ford’s cheapest offering in the US being a 200 inch long 4 door pick up

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      ‘Murica!!!

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @dwford Sir, a Corolla is 182 inches long. The Maverick will competitively priced with a Corolla. It will be fun to see how the Maverick sells. The 4 guys, 4 sets of golf clubs rule may come into play.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        Yes, and at 200 inches you’re in midsize territory. Not everyone wants something that large, even if it’s cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @elscotto: Exactly. Currently we have to either take 2 vehicles or rent a minivan for our annual weekend golf trip. The Maverick should be able to fill that function quite well.

        Yet still meet all of my wife’s requirements of heated seats, blind spot monitor, room for a baby/infant seat, not too high to make it a problem to get into but still with a higher seating position and not too big to drive in an urban environment. And it should meet my primary requirements of not too expensive, decent road clearance and FWD.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Dunno, Ranger used to be the cheapest way to ride Blue Oval, so I feel like we’ve came full circle. I don’t really lament the loss of modern day Aspire.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Its worth ending Ford’s run in an entire subcontinent just to get rid of the EcoSport!!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The EcoSport is the car that proves there still are bad cars. I can’t think of a single way, literally, in which it is better than either a Fiesta or a Nissan Kicks. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Bring the EU/UK market Puma as a replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      We already had this argument. Ford’s new CEO wishes he could bring it over, forgetting that he’s in charge. It’s a bit small. How about we go back to the original plan and bring over the Focus hatchback or even the wagon in the Active trim as a Crosstrek competitor.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I believe they’re working a lifted Fusion wagon as an Outback competitor.

        Seems Ford doesn’t want to make anything that’s small. I suppose that makes sense – smaller usually equals less profitable – but I think it’s still important to offer something to entry-level buyers who don’t want a truck.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    taking out a big red pencil: Win-Win! should be the title.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good riddance EcoSport. The only good thing about the EcoSport is it might be a shade better than the Fiat 500. When you call the Ford hotline you will now be connected to India just like when you have an issue with your computer. I have an order for the Maverick but that might be the last Ford or American based manufacturer vehicle I ever buy a vehicle from. The price, size, and the hybrid powertrain were what sold me on the Maverick and now I will have to wait and hope I made the right choice.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” small automobiles prioritizing value ”

    Not possible for Ford, no surprise then. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out ;)

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    “According to CNET, this also means the car will be removed from the North American lineup so that the upcoming Maverick pickup can have more leeway.”

    Considering the Escape pickup has the same level of awfulness as the Ecosport, I fail to see how having “leeway” will be a good thing. The Escape pickup can’t really be pushed down market (in terms of quality) but I’m sure Ford will find a way.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    EcoSport has to go down as one of the worst vehicles in awhile. 80s GM bad.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Redesign of Ecosport based on styling of Bronco Sport would have been appealing. Something similar in style of Suzuki Jimny.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Wasn’t there a “Buy/Drive/Burn” article about the Ford Ecosport, Jeep Renegade and Chevrolet Trax and TrailBlazer a few months ago?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “operating losses of more than $2 billion over the last decade”

    If I could save myself $200 million a year, I’d seriously consider buying a train station. (If I got some tax incentives.)

    Because trains are cool:
    https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/96492

  • avatar
    Guy08

    The end of the American hegemony – departing from all corners of the globe.

  • avatar
    RHD

    When your auto assembly line workers barely make enough to keep themselves fed, there’s not enough buying power in the market to purchase $60,000 pickup trucks, which is where Ford’s profits come from.
    Folks in India also bargain the price of everything, so no “MSRP or get lost” at the local Ford dealership. It’s also very common to squirrel away as much as they can (and buy gold to hoard), because the dowry concept is still very much alive and well. Spending for spending’s sake, in the American style, is not the way of life in India.

  • avatar
    Undead Zed

    Thank god that ugly little turd is dead. Hopefully the Trax will follow suit, I’m tired of seeing these underpowered metal lumps on the road.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Ford simply wasn’t willing to make the investment of developing and selling good vehicles in India at a price-point that the majority of the Indian car buying public could afford.

    Kia entered the subcontinent not that long ago and they are going gangbusters with the Seltos and Sonet; and they even sell a few hundred of the Carnival a month over there.

    The middle class in India is growing, so over the next few decades, there will be more buyers able to afford pricier models, if not luxury vehicles.

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    So what will be the new car of choice for today’s discerning overweight blue hair girls in their 20s now that the eco sport is gone?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Ford ought to bring us the vastly better European Puma as an entry level crossover.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    My biggest gripe was that the 4 cylinder was only available on the 4 wheel drive version.
    The 3 pot version was known as “shake, rattle, & roll”.
    No wonder sales were terrible.

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