Ford unveils compact utility vehicle Freestyle
New Delhi: Ford Motor India Pvt. Ltd will introduce the Freestyle compact SUV in India in the second quarter of this calendar year.
The petrol variant will sport a new 1.2 litre engine while the diesel model will use the 1.5 litre engine currently used in the Ecosport (a compact SUV). It will have localization of 86%, a first for the company in India.
According to Anurag Mehrotra, president and managing director, Ford India, Freestyle will be a global vehicle, and is scheduled to be unveiled in some of the South American countries later on Wednesday.
Almost half of the development work of the new vehicle was done in India and the company has managed to increase the sourcing of locally made components in order to price the product aggressively.
“The global unveil of the Ford Freestyle strengthens Ford’s continued commitment to India to bring products that consumers want and value. Just like we did with the EcoSport, we see a lot of potential in offering this compact utility vehicle to meet the SUV owning aspirations of first-time buyers or young achievers who are looking to upgrade their small cars,” added Mehrotra.
Ford was among the first to launch compact SUVs in India with the Ecosport in 2012 but sales have remained subdued for the past two years due to increased competition from almost every manufacturer.
Next year, Hyundai Motor India will launch its second compact SUV in the domestic market along with Mahindra and Mahindra. So, Ford needs to protect its turf with another new offering.
The sales of EcoSport in the April-December period declined by 10.5% to 32,162 units, according to the data published by the industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
In recent years, Ford also launched a new compact sedan known as the Figo Aspire which failed to excite buyers.
In 2017, sales of compact SUVs increased by 37% compared to just 9% growth in the overall passenger vehicles sales. According to a press statement issued by the company, the compact SUV segment grew threefold between 2013 and 2017.
“Freestyle represents our vision of a compact utility vehicle that delivers more on every count and is all set to surpass expectations of consumers who want and expect more,” said Vinay Raina, executive director of marketing, sales and service at Ford India.
“The new compact SUV may act as an additional volume generator for the Ford in India and will also generate some excitement among the dealers as well. It has been quite some time since Ford launched a new product in India so this will help bring customers to the showrooms as well,” said Puneet Gupta, associate director, IHS Markit.
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