Ford has launched its compact SUV EcoSport at 5.6 lakhs

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Eco- Sport.1New Delhi: This one could turn out to be an eye-ball-to-eye-ball confrontation. Ford has launched its compact SUV EcoSport today with a starting price of Rs 5.59 (ex-showroom DElhi). The product is touted to be the most important product in the Indian market till date.

The 1.5 litre petrol EcoSport is priced Rs 5.59 lakh, the corresponding diesel variant is costing Rs 6.89 lakh. The 1 litre petrol model with Ecoboost engine is priced Rs 7.89 lakh and 1.5 litre petrol model with power shift at Rs 8.49 lakh.

The EcoSport is competing with a worthy rival – Renault Duster – which is already a consumer darling. But the price range for this starts at Rs. 8.04 lakhs. Will the aggressive pricing help the EcoSport tip the scales in its favour?

A review by Overdrive magazine concludes that despite EcoSport being slightly less powerful than the Duster and meant for only four people (less shoulder space at the back), it may emerge a clear winner in this battle.

For one, it would be lighter on the pocket. Secondly, EcoSport is more attractive than the Duster. Third, in bumper-to-bumper traffic it is much easier to drive than the Duster because of a much lighter clutch operation.

“The only reason to buy the Duster now is if you are specifically looking for a compact SUV that offer enough space for five and their luggage, to travel long distances.”

A story in the Business Standard newspaper today speaks of the importance of EcoSport for Ford’s success in India. It says a lot is riding for Ford on this product; the company has invested $142 million in its Chennai manufacturing facility which will become the fifth Ford facility worldwide to manufacture this SUV.

The other four plants are in Brazil, China, Thailand and Russia. What makes Ford particularly bullish about the prospects in India is the recent surge in the demand for SUVs, even as the auto sector remains downcast.

Passenger car sales fell for the seventh straight month in May. For the 2012-13 on the whole, car sales dropped 6.69 per cent to 1.89 million units. However, demand for SUVs increased 52 per cent in 2012-13 to 553,660 units and it is only expected to grow in the future.

So Ford has obviously got the math right. Only one problem though – the Duster has had a first mover advantage and EcoSport needs to attract the same set of buyers.

Automobile website speaks of the Duster’s advantages. It says the Duster comes with two engine options in diesel and one in petrol. The 1.6-litre petrol produces 103bhp, while the diesel is available with two different power ratings (85bhp and 108bhp). The diesel is the most commonly sold version, and now the top-of-the-line trim RxZ gets a touchscreen system, adding more features to the Duster.

“The 85bhp is the real competition to the Ford Ecosport’s diesel engine and it is a close call between the two. In petrol, Ford’s EcoBoost is a clear winner.”

Whether EcoSport cashes in on all the goodwill it has already generated will become clear in the next few days.

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