With barely a fortnight left for FY2018 to close, Ford India is currently leading the passenger vehicle (PV) exports tally and is likely to win the tussle with Hyundai Motor India, which is running a close second.
While the Indian automobile sector is driving in the turbo-zone in terms of domestic sales, exports though are in sluggish mode, what with tough economic clime in many overseas markets. Also, the fact of the matter is that leading domestic OEMs like Maruti Suzuki India and Hyundai Motor India are focusing on meeting the rush of demand from the domestic market, which is growing at over 8 percent and set to touch the 3.10 million units mark by end of March (April-February 2018: 2,987,259).
On the export front, over the course of first 11 months of FY2018 from April 2017 to February 2018, cumulative PV exports at 673,555 units are down 1.80 percent on a year-on-year basis. However, with growing demand for its siblings – the Ka+ (Figo) hatchback and the Aspire sedan – Ford India has recorded a strong performance.
The company has shipped a total of 162,584 units through the 11-month period, registering a growth of 14.22 percent, albeit with the month of February 2018 being a bit slow, posting a decline 4.87 percent with 14,924 units despatched (February 2017: 15,688). One key contributing factor could be the piling up of the GST tax credit on exports, which has still not seen any refund initiation from the government’s end, making the entire automotive industry sitting at over Rs 2,000 crore of a cash block since implementation of the regime in July 2017. Even though the situation looks a bit complex, according to Vishnu Mathur, director general, SIAM, “The refund is being delayed because of some technical changes which need to be brought into the system, but have not yet been done. The GST Council has acknowledged this constraint and as per their assurance, we are very hopeful that it would be resolved soon.”
While Ford’s outbound shipments in FY2018 only included its two hatchback-based siblings until October 2017 with a total of 10,815 units being despatched in the month, the numbers have seen a significant jump in the subsequent months (November 2017: 19,242), (December 2017: 22,171) and (January 2017: 13,085), as the company resumed exports of the refreshed EcoSport compact crossover to the North American markets, after its introduction in India in November last year. Ford cumulatively shipped out 6,306 units of the EcoSport last month, with the crossover accounting for 42 percent of its total exports in the month.
The updated EcoSport, apart from getting a handsome makeover, also received an all-new 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol motor belonging to Ford’s Dragon series in India. The engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox is also being exported, to accompany the more popular 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbocharged petrol variant of the crossover abroad.
Ford exports the second-generation Ford Figo/ KA+ hatchback and the Ford Aspire compact sedan, both built at its Sanand factory in Gujarat, along with the made-in-Chennai Ford EcoSport models to more than 50 countries across Europe, Middle-East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and to emerging markets in North America as well as in Australia.
Hyundai hot on Ford’s heels
Giving a head-on competition to Ford at the export front, top ranker from FY2017, Hyundai Motor India’s total exports stand at 148,418 units until the end of February 2018 and unlike Ford, its shipments last month grew by 4.90 percent with despatches of 10,917 units.
Moreover, what the EcoSport has brought to the table for Ford, Hyundai has tasted similar success with its latest third-generation of the Verna sedan, which was launched in India in August 2017. With a strong overall package, the company immediately bagged its largest single order from the Middle-Eastern markets to export 10,501 units of the car, which were shipped out in January 2018.
On the other hand, the country’s leading carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, whose manufacturing plants are running full steam to cater to the domestic market, is going easy on exports and is set to be the third winner on the podium in the export battle. The company has shipped a total of 112,118 units over the 11-month period under review and its Baleno hatchback, which is being sent out to Europe and Japan continues to form the major chunk of the cars being despatched.
With barely a fortnight remaining for closure of FY2018, things are panning out to be rather exciting stage, with the gap between Ford and Hyundai being that of 14,166 units, clearly giving the former a slight edge over its Korean rival. But, with Hyundai’s export performance having been quite consistent throughout the fiscal, with shipments averaging 13,863 units over the last six months, can it accelerate hard to take Ford by surprise at the very last moment? We’ll find out in just a few weeks’ time. Stay tuned to Autocar Professional.