It’s official! Ford India has halted production of its ‘Josh machine,’ the Ford Ikon. The Ikon has now been replaced by the Fiesta Classic which comes as no surprise, since the Classic is being sold at around the same price point as the outgoing Ikon, only with far more features.
Confirming the news, Ford India MD Michael Boneham reportedly told the Economic Times: “We have ceased production of Ikon.” Ford has wisely positioned the Fiesta Classic in the entry-level luxury sedan segment to make room for the upcoming Fiesta, which will now slug it out against the Honda City and Fiat Linea. The car maker launched the Fiesta Classic in Chennai yesterday at a starting price of Rs. 5.49 lakh for the base petrol variant and Rs. 6.48 lakh for the base diesel variant.
“We are positioning Fiesta Classic very aggressively from the price point of view to be a major player in that segment,” Boneham said. This means that the Fiesta Classic will fight for ground against the Maruti Swift Dzire, the largest selling sedan in the entry-sedan category, Toyota Etios and Tata Manza. The present Fiesta model was selling an average of 950 units per month, and with the launch of the less pricey Fiesta Classic, sales can only go up hill.
The Ford Ikon was first launched in 1999 and as the years drove by, the car’s sales began picking up. However, after the implementation of the BSIV emission norms, Ford did not upgrade the ROCAM petrol engine of the Ikon, which indicates that the company had decided to phase out the model eventually. There was also a TDCi diesel variant of the Ikon and an Ikon Flair CNG variant was introduced in select cities just last year.
Ford India is likely to invest and expand its production capacity soon. “We will make an announcement on further investment soon. We have room at our existing location for expansion,” Boneham said at the sidelines of the Fiesta Classic’s launch yesterday.
Ford had invested $500 million in 2009 to increase production capacity and to set up a new engine facility at its Chennai plant. So far, the company has invested $950 in the country. Its production facility at Maraimalai Nagar near Chennai can dish out 2,00,000 cars and 2,50,000 engines per year when working on three shifts.
The company sticks to a double-shift at its plant and may consider startin a third shift after evaluating the demand for its cars in both domestic and international markets. Introducing a double shift is expected to help the factory achieve a production of 1,50,000 units by 2011 end. Ford India sold 29,801 cars in the January – March 2011 period and has consistently sold more than 10,000 units per month in the past few months. Ford’s small car, the Figo, is selling around 8,000 units a month and has crossed total sales of 85,000 units since its launch in March 2010. Related: Car and bikes sales in March 2011