There are some who might wonder when subcompact SUVs found their calling. Well, the history dates back to 7 years and yes, Ford India was the carmaker to bring this unique bodystyle to the masses. It wasn't as if there was not a subcompact SUV back then; Premier had the Rio, but it wasn't as widely accepted as the Ecosport was. We still remember the day when Ford India announced that the EcoSport was making its way to India at the 2012 Auto Expo. While the concept car was showcased at the expo, the official launch took place a year later. What India got was the second generation of the car and it came at a time when Ford India already had a huge win in their bag with the Figo. The Figo changed the way Indian customers looked at the Ford brand; in fact it changed the way the employees visualised the brand as well. The Figo was a strong seller and both the petrol and diesel engines that it came with, had enough in them to make it a fun to drive as also a durable hatchback. Sales sky rocketed and the Figo was a sensation; no wonder it was referred to as ‘Model T' behind closed doors of the factory.
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It was the second generation of the EcoSport that was launched in India and it was based on the B2E platform
Of course, another innovation was the need of the hour, to keep the customers interested and the new generation of the EcoSport was just what the doctor ordered. The second generation of the EcoSport was developed under Ford's global product development process at the Ford Brazil Development Centre. Based on the 2011 Ford Fiesta B2E platform, the EcoSport, brought a lot to the table. It had the 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines, which were fuel efficient and not to forget powerful, it had the space, the ride height and the promise of an SUV which could tackle any kind of terrain.
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The ride and handling too was spot on, because you felt you were driving a sedan rather than an SUV and of course the price. When it was launched, the EcoSport was priced at ₹ 5.59 lakh for the petrol going all the way to 8.99 lakh for the top-end diesel. Ford also brought in the 1-litre EcoBoost engine and prices for that variant started at ₹ 7.9 lakh. At that price, the EcoSport was a steal and given that the company had invested $142 million at its Chennai plant to manufacture the subcompact SUV, helped the company keep the pricing aggressive.
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The EcoSport also faced tough competition from 7-seater subcompact SUVs like the TUV300
It's no wonder then that just two years after the launch of the car in the country, Ford India had already crossed the 2 lakh production milestone. A key contributor to this achievement was Ford India's export strategy. At the launch of the subcompact SUV, it was made very clear that there were plans to export the car to put in plans to about 40 countries. Export markets included South Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, and Europe. In fact, in 2016, the made-in-India Ford EcoSport was heading to the US as well.
The Thunder Edition of the EcoSport came with a host of features and some tweaks in terms of looks
Now, in the current scenario, the Ford EcoSport has a lot of competition at hand. The company has repeatedly updated the car with new feature offerings and updated engines, but the competition has been from companies like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors and even Mahindra, which is why the sales of the EcoSport have just not been as they used to. However, we are sure that a new generation model is in the making and we can't wait to see, how Ford India goes about making the EcoSport nametag just as innovative and path breaking in the new avatar