New Delhi: In a global debut, Ford Motor Co has unveiled its Figo compact saloon concept, which is one of the biggest reveals at the Auto Expo 2014. This sub-four-metre saloon marks Ford’s entry into the compact saloon segment.
As part of Ford’s new design language, the Figo concept gets a trapezoidal grill, blacked-out headlamps and bold styling elements. Built on the same B2E platform as the Ford EcoSport SUV, the production version of this saloon concept is likely to replace the Ford Fiesta Classic when launched in 2015. The Figo saloon concept could be powered by Ford’s 1.2-litre petrol engine, its 1.5-litre ‘Sigma’ petrol or the 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol, and also the 1.5-litre DV5 turbo-diesel engine. There is also a possibility that an 80bhp, 999cc petrol engine, likely to be derived from the 1.0-litre EcoBoost but without the turbo, could also find its way into this new compact saloon’s engine bay.
It is likely that Ford will launch the saloon version before the hatchback, which in turn will eventually replace the Ford Figo.
“In design, connectivity and safety, the features in the Figo concept are at the forefront of smart technology” said Kumar Galhotra, vice-president, engineering, global product development, Ford Motor Co.
With the concept, Ford is targeting the fast-growing compact saloon segment in India which sold nearly 10 lakh units in calendar year 2013 and comprising almost a third of total passenger car sales last year.
According to newly appointed Ford India president, Nigel Harris, “Consumers are more demanding than ever before, wanting and expecting more from their cars, even if they are first-time buyers. They expect and demand great fuel efficiency and low cost of ownership. The Ford Figo concept offers all of this and more with sophistication, fresh design, world-class quality, a roomy interior and innovative, smart and safe technology.”
“The Figo concept represents our vision of a refined, no-comprise approach to designing a compact car,” said Ehab Kaoud, chief designer, Ford North America, who led the design for the car. “So often in this segment you see designs based on current trends and fashions that quickly look dated. We wanted instead to create a premium, long-lasting design that is clean and elegant, and which conveys a sense of precision, efficiency and sophistication.”
Autocar Professional asked Harris what his priority for the Indian market would be since he has taken over the reins of Ford India during the slowdown.
“You keep your view on the long-term, look after your customers and their service and keep dealers motivated and happy. We have a great group of dealers. Besides, you need to keep your own team motivated. This (slowdown) happens in every market, it is difficult at the moment but these are cycles.”
On Ford’s future export strategy, he added: “We have got great small cars and engines out of India and we are building a very substantial production base that will have scale. With scale you can get better prices and doing that gives us the opportunity to offer high-quality vehicles at the right prices all over the world. So there are three strategies in India: export strategy, domestic strategy and we are employing people and paying good salaries and wages and that creates the middle class in India so that benefits all of us.”
Ford India is, however, yet to start its third shift at Chennai to meet increased demand for the EcoSport which has 60,000 orders in the bag. Harris said: “We are looking at different ways to increase production. We are capable of starting the third shift but we need the material for it. Once we understand what material we have got, then we can meet the demand. I can’t be more specific than that.”