June 15, 2012: As part of Ford’s strategy to launch global platforms in India, its first model to roll off the production lines at its upcoming plant at Sanand in Gujarat will be the next-generation Figo (Codename: B562). The B562 will beef up competition in the B-plus segment and is expected to roll out in 2014. It is believed to have been designed and engineered at Ford’s design centre in Brazil and will be launched first in Brazil around end-2013.
The B562 model will be powered by the same EcoBoost powertrain technology that will power Ford’s all-new sub-4-metre EcoSport SUV (Codename: B515) that will be introduced in India in early 2013. The EcoSport will be Ford’s first vehicle with its smallest ever, high-tech three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine that will deliver improved fuel economy without compromising on performance. The image below shows Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia-Pacific and Africa, introducing the 1.0-litre, EcoBoost engine in the EcoSport to audiences at the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January this year. After the all-new Fiesta, which was launched in July 2011, the EcoSport is the latest ‘One Ford’ global product and the second of eight products Ford plans to bring to India by mid-decade.
On June 13, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine won the prestigious ‘International Engine of the Year 2012 award’ along with the ‘Best New Engine’ and ‘Best Engine Under 1.0 litres’ accolades. The 1.0-litre engine debuted earlier this year on the Ford Focus in Europe and is currently made at the carmaker’s plants in Craiova, Romania, and Cologne, Germany.
Sources say that EcoBoost powertrain technology will form the backbone of future Ford models and will become a standard fitment around 2014, leading to economies of scale due to high volumes. Ford plans to produce over 1.3 million low-CO2 EcoBoost engines for its European vehicles over the period 2012-2015: more than 800,000 of these are expected to be the new 1.0-litre EcoBoost.
Meanwhile, the diesel variant of the B562 model Figo is expected to be powered by the Duratorq TDCi (DV) 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine which already powers the Fiesta in India. The current Figo is equipped with a 1.4-litre Duratorq diesel. The engines for the next-gen Figo are likely to be produced at Ford’s upcoming engine plant at Sanand that has a production capacity of 270,000 units per annum and could later also cater to the requirements of Peugeot and target overseas markets as well, say sources.
Besides, Ford is also looking at bringing the B516 model to India believed to be a mini-MPV around 2015-16, say sources. This model will be fitted with carrier engines from the existing crop of vehicles.
Peugeot and Ford could share engines
Not many know that ford’s small-car diesel engine range in india is actually a joint development between Ford and PSA (Peugeot–Citroën).
The Duratorq engines that power the Figo and Fiesta belong to PSA’s HDI engine family. Ford and Peugeot share this family in Europe and there is no reason why this co-operation cannot extend to India, especially since Peugeot’s upcoming hatch and saloon (codes: M2 and M3), are likely to use the same HDI engines.
Peugeot can tap into the engine supplier base that Ford has built up, but joint manufacturing is also possible, especially since Ford is putting up a massive engine facility in Sanand, where Peugeot also plans to be based. However, with PSA’s India plans on slow-burn, Ford could be on its own in Gujarat for a while.
SHOBHA MATHUR (with inputs from Autocar India)