What Ford had to say about the new Fiesta

What is the value proposition of the new Ford Fiesta? We had an interaction with the Ford senior team yesterday which might help CarToq members in some ways.

When the new Ford Fiesta prices were announced last week, most CarToq members were disappointed by the premium pricing. The Fiesta petrol was priced between Rs. 8.24 lakh and Rs. 9.42 lakh, while the diesel was priced between Rs. 9.27 lakh and Rs. 10.42 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. Read: Ford Fiesta test drive.

Ford fiesta photo
The 2011 Ford Fiesta is a driver-oriented car and has good handling.

There were three questions that we wanted Ford to respond to during our interaction with the Ford India marketing director Nigel Wark and the general manager for product development, P.K. Umashankar.

  • Why did Ford not launch the base model at a more competitive price?
  • At the price Ford set for the Fiesta, what buyer profile is it hoping to target?
  • Does the Fiesta really come off better on a price-feature comparison with competitors such as the Verna, City, SX4 and Vento?

Here is what the Ford team had to say.

Competitive pricing: According to Nigel Wark, Ford does not intend to be a market leader in this segment, and it was a deliberate strategy to not have an entry-level model.

nigel e wark photo
Nigel E Wark, ED, marketing & sales, Ford India

Ford says it isn’t in the game of low-priced, featureless variants that will rope in volumes. Also, interestingly, it does not have the production capacity currently to produce the Fiesta in high volumes. (In fact, the capacity constraint is hitting the Figo production also, both for domestic sales and exports)

Our take: We think this pricing strategy of Ford, with a premium pricing over the competition, is reminiscent of what Honda and Toyota have done with their cars in India. But that was a few years back, and Honda is currently struggling to hold on to that approach.

Fiesta target buyer: Ford says this target customer is one who enjoys driving and is ready for a global product, which is why the company brought in the global Fiesta. The target customer is aged between 28 and 35, is a multiple-car owner, and is well-settled in life and career, with a small family perhaps.

With the Fiesta, Ford says it wants to entice buyers primarily on the “Best car to drive” and “best in class ride quality on Indian roads” and so it is loaded with technology accordingly (electronic power steering setup that has pull-drift compensation that reduces steering effort at battling cross winds or banked roads, and the well-weighted speed sensitive steering, boron steel reinforcements etc.)

Ford has also kitted out the top models of the Fiesta with cruise control and voice-activated commands, which are gizmos that will appeal more to self-driven individuals.

Our take: We will test drive the Verna, City and Fiesta together soon to establish the relative strength of the Fiesta vis a vis its competitors. Watch out for our review soon. Also see: Ford Fiesta video review

Fiesta price-feature comparison: Ford shared several slides with us about Fiesta variants and how they stack up against competitors. Fiesta offers dual airbags, and ABS and EBD from its entry-level model onwards. Ford pointed out to global platform strengths of the Fiesta (global quality build quality etc) and also intangibles such as lower maintenance costs.

Our take: We were not fully convinced about the Fiesta’s price-features proposition as competitors too offer many similar features. Will a buyer place more value to voice-activated commands or push-button start? Rear-view parking camera or cruise control? That’s an individual choice.

In summary: There will be a class of buyers who are looking primarily for driving and ride comfort, and are willing to pay a premium for it. The Fiesta will be an attractive option for them. The attraction would have been a lot more if Fiesta had a little more power to offer this class of buyers, as great handling and power go hand in hand.

What are your views?