Ford drove in the international Fiesta sedan in India on Thursday with an entry price of Rs 8.23 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), significantly higher than rivals like Honda City, Hyundai Verna and Volkswagen Vento. The US car major has seen a revival of sorts in India after the launch the Figo last year. It is counting on the new car to up its stake in the lucrative but highly competitive premium sedan segment, which has seen a flurry of new launches in recent times.
Fiesta is the first of the eight new global models that Ford has promised to roll out by 2015. It sports a 1500cc engine in both petrol and diesel variants. The entry-level diesel variant will cost Rs 9.27 lakh (Delhi ex-showroom). Michael Boneham, MD of Ford India, told TOI that he was not worried about the price gap against rivals. “It is not about price, but about the product. The Fiesta offers features like anti-lock braking system (ABS), airbags and steering wheel audio controls as standard across variants,” Boneham said.
However, rival brands like Honda also offer the features as standard while in others they are available at a lower price. The premium sedan segment has seen competition hotting up of late and changes in the dynamics. The Honda City, once the leader of the pack, has been under tremendous pressure following the entry of models like Vento and the new Verna, forcing the company to go in for a Rs 66,000 price cut last month.
The competition will make things difficult for Ford. The US major is already witnessing a pressure in the demand for the Figo as slowdown hits the market and competitors like Maruti, Hyundai and Toyota catch up. The Figo, the volume-driver for the company, saw volumes dip 6% in the first quarter of this fiscal at 17,319 units against 18,495 units in the corresponding quarter in 2010-11, according to figures released by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Boneham said he was not too worried about the slowdown in demand in the market and for Figo. “While factors like high interest rates and scarcity of cash have put pressure on the demand in the car market, we are still forecast to grow by 12-14%, which is absolutely not bad. On Figo, we have some production constraints on the diesel engines. In any case, the model is also being exported and we are doing well internationally.” Refusing to forecast the company’s sales targets, Boneham said Ford was bullish on India and was on course to bring in new models in the market.