Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ford Launches Cheap Micro-Car For India


In the coming decades, India will emerge as a huge car market due to its population and rapid economic growth. Already China surpassed America in the number of cars sold last year, and both markets represent opportunities for American car companies. GM has a firm foothold in China, and Ford seems to be turning their eye towards India for expansion.

In a bid to boost their Indian market share, Ford introduced a car tailor-made for India back in September; the Figo, Italian for “cool”. That car is now officially on sale, aimed at the average Indian who wants something more upscale than a Tata Nano.

The Figo is a neat car, designed to be tough, reliable, and easy to repair. It is a B-platform car, which underpins the upcoming American Fiesta as well as other, more obscure Ford vehicles like the Euro-only Ka and Brazil-only EcoSport mini-SUV. With a starting price of 349,000 Rupees, or about $7,700, it is cheap enough for many Indians to be able to afford, and is available with upscale options like Bluetooth and keyless entry. The Figo was designed with durability in mind and features extra cooling equipment for those hot Indian days where the constant traffic hardly seems to move.

As a micro-car, it is meant more for inter-city commuting than highway driving. It takes over 16 seconds to reach 62 mph. It gets pretty decent gas mileage from the 1.2 liter petrol engine, with 25 mpg in the city and about 36 on the highway. The 1.4 liter optional diesel does even better, getting 36 in the city and about 44 mpg on the highway. Not exactly a speed racing or ultra-efficient car, yet it is very price conscious and not all that bad looking either (though the word “bland” comes to mind).

Tiny cars make up most of the market in India as their tight, crowded streets make larger American cars difficult to maneuver (just like in much of Europe). Ford is pursuing a global platform strategy, and the Figo might one day — in some form or fashion — find its way to America. I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow, but as gas mileage goals climb higher, cars like the Figo are going to make more and more sense for automakers. It would also be nice to be able to buy an American car for under $10,000, a market that has mostly been ignored by American automakers (the Aveo was a half-hearted attempt at best)

source: gas2