‘Unprecedented’ demand delays deliveries; firm offers discounts on other models

Customers waiting to drive their new Ford EcoSport may have to wait longer.

Those who have booked the compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) in June have been asked by the company to wait till March-end. This could get further delayed to July-August for a few buyers.

Ford claims the delay is because of “unprecedented demand” and has shot off letters to customers, giving them the option of choosing other models.

“In view of having booked the Ford EcoSport, we would be pleased to offer you an exclusive additional benefit of Rs 10,000 on these models,” the company said in a letter to a customer that Business Line has access to.

In case a person desires to cancel an EcoSport booking, “the full booking amount will be refunded immediately by the dealers and the cancellation charges will be waived off”, the letter says.

While launching the much-talked about SUV, the company had promised delivery of vehicles by November. Considering the “long queue”, Ford is now encouraging its EcoSport customers to go for models such Figo, Ford Classic, Endeavour or Fiesta with an ‘additional discount.’

Some unhappy

But, some buyers are unhappy. One reason is that there may be a price hike in January because of a rise in input costs, which means they will have to shell out more on the same vehicle because of the delay in delivery. They feel the carmaker should not have promised earlier delivery dates.

“I had booked the EcoSport Titanium 1.5 (diesel) in June and was promised an early November delivery. But, after the recall happened, within a month, the dealer asked me if I can opt for a different colour (silver) from what I had booked for (blue), which could be delivered at the same time (November). However, now they are asking me to wait till March,” a customer told Business Line. This customer is now looking at dropping EcoSport for a vehicle from a different company.

Ford had recalled 972 units of EcoSport in early July, within two weeks of launch, because of a fault in the glow plug module of the diesel 1.5L version.

Another customer from Delhi said dealers are even now asking him to go for Endeavour instead of EcoSport, in which case the company could give a discount of up to Rs 1 lakh and instant delivery of the bigger SUV.

The question being raised is: Why would someone aspiring to drive an SUV opt for a sedan or hatchback?

When asked, Vinay Piparsania, Executive Director - Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford India, said that because of unprecedented demand for EcoSport, there is an extended waiting period on certain variants and Ford has stopped taking bookings on those.

The company had stopped bookings around September, after crossing 60,000. Till now, it has delivered around 30,000 units.

“The Ford India team is working closely with suppliers to enhance the output of EcoSport to meet the high demand. Our Chennai facility is working at more than optimal levels to ensure that we reduce the waiting time as much as possible,” Piparsania said.

“Realising the long waiting period on EcoSport to be of inconvenience to some customers, we are providing an option for customers to choose a product from our existing portfolio,” he added.

“Ford will continue to monitor industry trends and focus on minimising impacts to customers.

“The vehicle specification and price of your EcoSport will be applicable as prevailing on the date of invoice by the dealer to you,” Joginder Singh, President and Managing Director, Ford India, said in a letter sent to a customer.

This means a customer who had booked the vehicle this year will have to pay an additional cost from next month, or whenever he or she gets the vehicle.

According to company sources, Ford India will soon announce a price increase across all models, effective from the first week of next month.

The company had launched 10 variants of the SUV priced between Rs 5.59 lakh and Rs 9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), available in 1L petrol, 1.5L petrol and 1.5L diesel options. Effective September, the company increased prices (across all models) in the range of 1 to 5 per cent.

ronendrasinghsss.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 29, 2013)
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