Ford India is the first automaker in India to set up a Vehicle Personalization Center that is integrated at its factory in Maramalainagar, near Chennai. The center will allow Ford to directly accessorize cars rather than getting its dealers to do so. In its current form, the Ford Vehicle Personalization Center (VPC) works like this. The car buyer, in this case books the EcoSport crossover. At the dealer’s end, the buyer chooses an optional package for her/his vehicle. The dealer places an order for the EcoSport with the optional package from Ford. The automaker’s VPC customizes the EcoSport after it’s built, and dispatches it to the dealership.
Currently, Ford India is offering three accessory packs for the EcoSport crossover,
- The Spare Wheel Pack adds a cover to the spare wheel of all EcoSport variants.
- The Alloy Pack adds alloy wheels and a roof spoiler for the crossover’s Ambiente and Titanium Trim.
- The Sports Pack adds the roof spoiler, scuff plates with LED lighted signage, and rear cross-bar for the Titanium and Titanium (O) variants of the EcoSport.
Dealer fitted accessory kits are common across most car brands in India. Mahindra even has a customization division that does up the automaker’s utility vehicles. However, Ford’s VPC initiative is quite unique in that it involves the factory directly with the customer’s car. Apart from reducing the dealership’s accessory inventory, this move from Ford is expected to result in better fitted accessory kits as the whole process is handled by highly trained hands at the factory. In the times to come, Ford India’s VPC is expected to get into accessorization of more cars in the American automaker’s Indian portfolio. The level of customization is also expected to increase.
In India, automakers have studiously stayed away from running car customization programs, apart from offering a generic set of variants that the buyer can choose from. This eschewing of customization is intended at reducing production and assembly overheads. As the Indian car market matures rapidly, car buyers are getting more discerning, and are choosing a greater degree of customization on their drives. Manufacturers such as Mahindra and Ford have been the first off the block when it comes to giving customers additional choices. In the times to come, expect other automakers to join suit.