Ford Motor Company has reportedly made the decision to table plans for a new compact car family intended for developing markets like China and India, following lackluster sales of small-to-mid-size hatchbacks and sedans in those countries.
According to Reuters, Ford’s tentatively-canceled “B500” model range would have consisted of a premium sedan, hatchback, and crossover utility vehicle, which would have been produced locally in China and India starting in 2018. Additional production was slated for Brazil, Thailand, and Russia, one of the outlet’s sources said.
Retooling Ford’s plant in Gujarat, India reportedly would have represented an investment of more than $100 million US, while the automaker’s market share in the passenger car space is just around 3 percent. Conversely, Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai hold a combined two-thirds of the passenger car market in the country.
Now, instead of investing in the B500 model range, Ford will allegedly work on redesigning the existing Ford EcoSport crossover, Figo hatchback, and Figo Aspire sedan subcompact models for 2020-2021. The automaker is also planning on building more SUV and crossover models for the Indian and Chinese markets, while increasing exports of Indian-built vehicles in order to get the most out of existing plants, reports Reuters.
“The global shift to crossovers makes competing in small cars a tough proposition for GM and Ford,” says AutoForecast Solutions Vice President Sam Fiorani. “It makes more sense for them to refresh older products now, harness lower development costs in China in the mid-term, and move toward small crossovers over the long haul.”