Ford’s upcoming premium SUV could rival against Jeep Compass and Hyundai Tucson; likely to be based on next-generation XUV500’s architecture
Automobile manufacturers are constantly on-the-search to explore into new segments and in a vast market like India, the customers’ preference has become unique and ever-changing in recent times especially among the millennials. The first-mover advantage is always a key for success in any space and compounded with the brand value it could do wonders in sustainability and sales growth.
Fiat has had torrid times in the domestic scenes for several years before the Jeep brand romped on to the SUV space with the Compass. Since its arrival in July 2017, the locally-made Compass has managed over 15,000 unit sales and would have given wake-up call for other brands to think about potential competitors from their fleet. For instance, a range-topping SUV from Maruti Suzuki is expected by the end of this decade and Tata’s H5 concept based SUV could be launched next year as both eyes the market share of the Compass in the C-segment.
Ford’s local success can be attributed to the well-received EcoSport while the highly capable Endeavour plays second fiddle to the Toyota Fortuner. According to a recent report emerged on the interweb, the American company is planning to add a new SUV to its range to contest against the Jeep Compass. It was believed to be based on the Kuga compact SUV.
The existing Kuga (or Escape in some markets) is based on the C1 platform and underpins global products like the Focus and C-Max. Making its debut in 2008, the Kuga is in its second generation for the last five years and is at the end of its lifespan. An updated Kuga went on sale in Europe in October 2016 but it did not stop Ford from working on an all-new generation.
With Ford’s trademark of Kuga Energi last May hinting at a possible plug-in hybrid version, several visual changes are expected in the upcoming generation. The Kuga, in its current guise, could have been deemed unsuitable for the Indian market though. In November 2016, a test mule of the Kuga was spied testing in India and it indicates that Ford could be already developing its C-segment SUV in closed loops correlating with this report.
However, fresh speculations suggest that the new SUV could be based on the next-gen Mahindra XUV500 platform (internally codenamed: W601) since the homegrown brand has a lower cost structure with potentially low development costs helping in lesser leading time for new product development. The upcoming XUV500 architecture is expected to have improved safety standards as well.
Going by both the brands’ association, Mahindra may gain access to Ford’s B562 platform for an electric sedan scheduled for the future. Another interesting report recently is Mahindra and Ford co-developing an EV based on Ford Aspire. Ford’s first electric vehicle could be launched next year in India.
The C-segment SUV will be positioned between the EcoSport and Endeavour and could adopt design cues from the upcoming Kuga. It is expected to be launched following the new Figo Freestyle later in the year but we would like to think that the new SUV’s arrival may be reserved for 2019 as no test mule has been spotted running trials yet. The C-segment SUV space is getting all bunched in the next two or three years as all big manufacturers are seemingly in the hunt for market share.