Russia has seen hard items over the last few years as the country claws its way out of a recession and consumers are starting to buy cars again. The Ford EcoSport SUV isn’t seeing the benefit of increase car buying in Russia, despite buyers coming back to showrooms in the country. Reports indicate that the model is doing so poorly in Russia, that Ford has shut down production of the SUV and the little Fiesta car at the plant it operates in conjunction with Russian automaker Sollers. Production won’t start up again until next year.
When production of the Ford EcoSport SUV starts back up next year, Ford is expected to see sales of the model continue to be weak as the SUV isn’t finding an audience within the country due to its size and price. The competition is cheaper and has more room inside than Ford’s offering. Ford has sold only 4,906 EcoSports in Russia so far in 2018, a significant decline compared to the 7,007 units it moved in 2017. As Russian auto sales have grown 13.7 percent so far in 2018, and Ford has seen its overall sales increase 6.3 percent during that same period, the EcoSport isn’t seeing its sales grow correspondingly.
Automotive analytics firm Autostat thinks Ford’s problem is that they have failed in pricing the vehicle in Russia. Analysts at Autostat wrote the SUV is “in the deadly competition zone, where the company failed to correctly build the price positioning of these cars.” When the EcoSport launched in Russia, the base trim started at 959,000 rubles ($14,346 USD). In the US market the base EcoSport starts at $19,995 with the high-end 2.0L SES trim starting at $26,880. The the Ford EcoSport managed to rack up over 17,500 units sold in Q2 2018, but those numbers were only good for sixth place in its segment.
The thought is that Ford EcoSport price needs to be cut inside Russian market to gain sales momentum, and if it is unable to reduce the cost of the vehicle, it will likely discontinue the model. Ford’s biggest competition in the country is Lada, a brand that Americans will be mostly unfamiliar with as it isn’t sold here, but has strong cultural ties in Russia. Lada has a refreshed line of vehicles and has seen its marketshare grow to 20 percent this year with sales up 15.4 percent for the month and 16.4 percent for the year. Lada has recently freshened rides that have found the mark with Russian buyers such as the XRAY crossover, priced at 766,900 ($11,472 USD) rubles for starters. The old Lada 4×4 Bronto (not Bronco) packing its classic looks and compact car style on a 4×4 drivetrain is still in the catalog starting at 566,900 rubles. Lada has the price point, and style Russians are looking for nailed, the question is can Ford compete, and for now the answer looks to be no.
Stay tuned to Ford Authority for more Ford EcoSport news.