Ford India has announced that it plans to introduce a third shift for production of the EcoSport at its Maraimalainagar plant. The increased production should reduce the waiting periods for the popular compact SUV, which still runs as high as six months on certain variants.
Ford India has been grappling with production constraints since it introduced the EcoSport over a year ago, and has also had to balance demand from domestic and export markets.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar India and Bloomberg TV India, Nigel Harris, president of Ford India, said his company has struggled to ramp up production due to supplier constraints. "The EcoSport not only did well in India but every market in which it has been launched. That has put the pressure on suppliers everywhere. We can’t change suppliers overnight but have now got to a point where we can increase volumes. We will, therefore, soon move to a third shift which is planned for the EcoSport," he said
Lower variants of the EcoSport, in particular, have been in short supply. Some dealers still quote a waiting period of up to three months for the base 1.5 Ambiente version. According to company sources, these lower-priced variants are not profitable for Ford India which is why the company is limiting their supply.
Harris admits that "there is some pressure on some of those variants, especially since the rupee is now at 60 to the US dollar instead of 45. We have raised prices but there is still a big difference."
He, however, adds, "We are not limiting the lower variants but demand really is for the higher variants. For the first couple of the years, people want the (top-of-the-line) Titanium, and not many want the lower series to start with. It’s only when the vehicle is a year or two old that people begin to demand the mid and lower variants"
The EcoSport was launched in June 2013 at a shock price of Rs. 5.59 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base variant, which led to an avalanche of bookings. Ford India subsequently hiked the SUV’s price twice – in September 2013 and January this year – so the base and mid-level variants cost about Rs. 65,000 more than at launch. But this has not tempered demand. Since its launch, Ford has sold 63,598 EcoSports with a peak of 6,203 units in September last year. Now, with production set to increase substantially, EcoSport sales could touch a new high.