Scott McCormack, Vice President, Ford India

Ford India has brought out the new Endeavour and priced it aggressively as well. Ammar Master caught up with vice president (marketing, sales and service), Scott McCormack and asked him on the carmaker’s India strategy.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 06 Jul 2007 Views icon4742 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Do you think Ford has been a little too slow to bring in the right products to India?
I do not think this is a fair comment. Sure, the Ikon has been around for some time, but it is doing very well. I also do not think you can call the Fiesta as coming too late because it is right among the leaders in that segment. The important thing is to introduce products that meet people’s needs and price them correctly.


Are there any specific concerns about India like interest rates for instance?
No, interest rates are transient and you have to deal with that. The long-term concern is to make sure that we have a product range that makes us really competitive as a mainstream player in the market together with having the plant capacity and the dealer network footprint to actually allow this to happen.


Ford and Fiat have mooted working together on a global small car. Can this be extended to India?
That would be speculative at this point. We are looking at a number of growth segments. I would not say we are having a tie up with any individual company. It (small car) is a big segment and we cannot ignore it. If you look at what we have done with the Fiesta and Endeavour, these are segments where we can compete successfully. Therefore, it is not only a matter of being in an attractive segment and looking at its growth projections. We also have to be very competitive in it.


How are you going to stand up to growing competition from new entrants like Maruti’s SX4?
We form all our business plans around the assumption that competition will increase. The Fiesta still has an outstanding powertrain and fuel economy. Customers like its styling, and it has proven itself over the last couple of years as being very reliable. All the research that we track says that not only are sales good, but the Fiesta’s perception of being a good car has grown all the time. Our strategy would be partly marketing and partly to continue to refresh our products.


Can we therefore expect more products in this segment?
There are no firm plans right now in terms of specific new products. We do not automatically shoehorn existing products into a market. With each new segment we plan to enter, we have to evaluate whether there is an existing product we can bring from another market or do we have to develop a new model. Take the example of the Fiesta. The powertrain and the platform already existed but we have ended up with something that is unique for India.


Why, in your view, has the Fusion not lived up to expectations?
This is possibly because it is a niche product and customers here prefer sedans to hatchbacks. In some of our other markets, people buy Focus hatchbacks because they understand the product. It is only a question of how many catch on to this here.


Will Ford phase out the Ikon?
There are no plans to phase out the Ikon since it is our second highest selling model. We also recently made minor investments in its interiors and need to justify this. The Ikon is part of our plans for at least a couple of years longer. As we go forward, we will have some minor and major refreshment actions on all our products. I would not like to comment specifically on what this might mean for the Ikon.


Are there any plans for something like AutoAlliance Thailand in India?
There are no such plans. AAT has really established itself as our pickup truck and truck-based SUV plant, exporting to over 130 countries. Our focus here is very much on what we need to do to grow within India. The Indian market itself is going to be substantial.


Are any fresh investments being planned?
The plant can produce 100,000 cars annually and there are no other investment plans right now. As we finalise our product range, that would then naturally lead into decisions that need to be made around the plant. So there will be product plans first followed by those relating to capacity investment.


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