In Conversation With Vinay Piparsania, Executive Director- Marketing & Sales Ford India

Published On Jun 27, 2013 06:19 PM By Prithvi for Ecosport 2015-2021

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At the launch evening of the much anticipated Ford EcoSport, we got the opportunity to speak to Mr. Vinay Piparsania, Executive Director- Marketing, Sales and Service Ford India, who talked about the all new Ford EcoSport and Ford India's future plans to strengthen their reach and after-sales service.

Ford EcoSport

Q: The pricing on which you have launched the EcoSport at, is the introductory price or could we expect a revision sometime later?

Ans: It’s the price that we have announced today and our pricing is all been keeping in mind a number of market factors. This is the official price that we are offering on the EcoSport, though like I mentioned market factors are to determine the price, however for the time being this is what the price is going to be for this SUV.

Q: There is a common perception that Ford’s parts and after sales services are higher than the competitors. So is Ford India working on it?

Ans: It’s a very clear imperative for us to work on that and since we have undertaken a journey on the whole cost of ownership that we had based upon this customer feedback. In the Figo for example, we have done a number of strategies which include having child parts that people can repair rather than replace the whole part replaced. We have started to make far more robust engineering on the parts, expanding our service network so that the level of technicians and the capability to diagnose and to repair is also increased. So we are very much on that journey that platform is also where we are launching our EcoSport, similar strategy.

Q: What is your target audience, as the kind of branding that you have done so far, calls it a pure urban car. The 'Urban Discovery Campaign' was targeted to the people living in cities only. Now when the pricing is quite lucrative, don't you think this product can do wonders in smaller cities and centres as well, where we have seen a tremendous growth?

Ans: We started off with a target group, and the target group is no doubt urban, because that's the way the EcoSport has been primarily designed, keeping in mind the challenges that are there from an urban lifestyle, from the kind of consumer we are looking at, a 30 year old professional with an extended family, leading a life which is both busy, contemporary and one that requires him or her to both work hard & play hard. Yes in India, we agree that tier-II and tier-III towns are growing really rapidly, we are infact putting our whole distribution strategy, most of our growth that has happened come from those tier-II and tier-III towns as well. And yes the product is targeted to the urban, but we know it will go through out the country, which is why we are rapidly getting our distribution better aligned. As a prerequisite for launching, we wanted to make sure that our distribution is also in place, so we have now over 236 touch-points to support the service as well to sale our vehicles. By the middle of the decade, we will double that number.

Q: Locations wherein there are limited number Ford service stations, does the company have a strategy in place to tap on it because customer dissatisfaction is one area of concern that looms largely in a website and forums like ours?

Ans: We are embarking on a very clear strategy with our dealers to enhance our customer and consumer experience. I Understand that there are few challenges and there will be, but if there is anything or any questions of customers they can put on to our helpline, we would definitely intervene as required to provide that. There could be one off instance but what we work on is very clearly, we work with our dealers to establish their capability. So there is a lot of training that we do for technicians, secondly is that tools & the number of bays and the standards of their facility, we have a very clear audit and the process by which we go ahead and our field managers work with the dealers to improve all that. But should there be any kind of experience, my request is for those customers to definitely write to us, we would be intervene in that matter to sort out the issue.

Q: With Ford EcoSport finally here, we have heard rumours that Ford is planning to come up with B+ hatchback as well. Could you throw some light on it?

Ans: I won’t comment on our future programme but I can say one or two things that there are various emerging segments, which we see as opportunities. This is a new segment that we have identified and I think it is going to be a very high growth one. I think the same science that we are using to identify segments like these , we will be identifying future product launches also. Closer to time we shall be sharing with you the other details.

Q: Considering the price point that Ford has launched the EcoSport at, don’t you think that you have directly hit the premium hatch back market?

Ans: We believe that there are various segments, this will create its own segment. But clearly research has shown the customer preferences for a SUV styling & capability and to make an offer on that is clearly a sign providing consumers a compelling proposition. Yes we would hope to draw from all these different current segments and give the power of choice to customers to consider what is it that they want? This is more consumer driven and it’s not really what we want. Customers have been looking for vehicles which offer that much therefore we have gone further in identifying it and making it into a product proposition.

Q: Don’t you think that the launch of EcoSport would go against the current line up vehicles within the Ford umbrella?

Ans: We all types, this are portfolio therefore if you are in the showroom again we are offering consumers a power of choice. So what is that they looking for, there is a segment for sedan, there is a segment for hatchbacks, segment for B & B+ cars, so these are different segments and all of them they will be our customer that we would be aiming to meet their requirements.

Q: What is the current booking amount on the EcoSport?

Ans: The EcoSport is now available for sale currently with an initial amount of Rs 50,000.

Q: Diesel being the most preferred variant in the market as of today. Could we see long waiting periods for the Diesel EcoSport in months to come?

Ans: Again it depends on which part of the country are you in. Yes we have a distribution strategy that is working based upon the spread of the country. So we are making sure that we can get as much out there to the market as per our potential that market offers. However mass production ramps up.

Q: What is the kind of capacity that Ford India is running for the EcoSport?

Ans: As you know we have a plant in Chennai and one is to start soon in Sanand, so the combined capacity which comes together next year would be 4,40,000 vehicles. This would be across the entire product range including exports. So we have the capability, we will work towards assigning capacity mix, everything based upon the orders. We are quite flexible but depending upon the market demands we shall cater accordingly.

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