Ford tweaks India-built EcoSport for Europe

Ford will bring the EcoSport to Europe this summer to compete in the booming subcompact SUV segment.
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Ford has tweaked the Brazil-developed EcoSport subcompact SUV for European markets. "The model for Europe is different in more than 300 parts," said Nick Fitzgerald, the EcoSport's chief program engineer. For example, the body-in-white has a stronger structure to meet European crash-test standards, he said.

Why does the EcoSport have its spare wheel on the tailgate?
Brazilian customers prefer to have the spare wheel outside of the trunk even on smaller cars.
Will this create a loading problem in congested European cities and parking garages?
The trunk will be hard to load if a car is parked closely behind. It's less of a problem in mainland Europe because the door is hinged on the left side. But Ford already has had customer complaints from right-hand-drive markets.
Will the EcoSport offer four-wheel drive in Europe?
A 4wd system is an option in Brazil but will not be available in Europe, not even in mountainous countries such as Switzerland and Austria.
Any new technology?
The SUV has Ford's Sync in-car connectivity system that allows owners to use voice commands to make phone calls and select music from devices connected via Bluetooth or USB.
Target buyers?
Mainly young urban professionals aged 30 to 45 who are attracted by the connectivity features.

Ford hopes the EcoSport helps return its European operations to profit by 2015 because the model will compete in one of Europe's few growth segments where profit margins are higher than usual for mass-market cars.

Launch date: Through 2014 in Europe, starting in June with Germany, the UK, Austria and Switzerland
Base price: 19,200 euros (Germany)
Main rivals: Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Opel Mokka
Where built: Chennai, India (Europe, Asia/Pacific, Mexico, South Africa); also Brazil, China, Russia, Thailand
Platform: Global B-segment platform
Lowest CO2 emissions: 120g/km (90hp, 1.5-liter diesel)

Ford did not give European sales forecasts for the EcoSport and executives worry that sales will be constrained by supply shortages. In Germany, the automaker expects to sell only 4,000 EcoSports in the second half. "We could sell a lot more, but unfortunately we won't get enough units from India," said Alexander Sackczewski, product marketing boss at Ford of Germany. Ford will export the EcoSport to Europe from its factory in Chennai.

This story is from the current issue of the Automotive News Europe monthly e-magazine, an exciting new product that is also available to read on our iPhone and iPad apps.You can download the new issue as well as past issues by clicking here.

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